Backcountry skier dies in avalanche in Maroon Bowl outside of Aspen

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At least 104 deaths occurred in the outdoor recreation space in Colorado in 2019. That’s a number that’s hard to ignore.

Here’s a look at a number of deaths that occurred in Colorado’s outdoor recreation space throughout 2019, separated by activity. This list may not be all-encompassing. It’s also worth noting that several people remain missing.

Skiing/Snowboarding-related deaths

(22 deaths in 2019; 25 during the 2018-19 ski season, 2 thus far during winter of the 2019-2020 season)

January 5 – An avalanche occurs during an avalanche safety course on Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains. Six skiers are involved, one of whom dies. This is the first death of 2019.

January 7 – A 71-year-old male is found unconscious at Breckenridge ski resort is later pronounced dead. 

January 13 – A skier has an accident and dies as a result while backcountry skiing on Quandary Peak. 

January 19 – A skier dies while night skiing at Granby Ranch following a collision with a tree. The 46-year-old was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. 

January 21 – A skier dies near Aspen after being hit by an avalanche on an estimated 35-degree slope. He was with a partner at the time that was able to dig him out of the snow in about 10 minutes. The skier was unconscious when found. 

February 10 – A snowboarder dies following a fall in Makaha terrain park at Aspen Snowmass.

February 16 – Two backcountry skiers go missing in the Crested Butte area. It was later determined that the two were killed in an avalanche.

February 19 – A backcountry skier is killed in an avalanche in the Telluride area. The skier was reportedly skinning on Bear Creek Trail when the avalanche was triggered by snowboarders entering the terrain from above.

February 20 – An 85-year-old skier dies following a fall at Beaver Creek Resort. The coroner indicated that the cause of her fall was likely due to catching an edge.

February 23 – A 62-year-old skier dies at Winter Park Resort following a medical incident.

February 28 – A Chinese skier is last seen at the Vail Transportation Center with his ski pass scanned later that day. Remains are found in August in Vail’s back bowls that are believed to be his.

March 3 – A snowboarder dies following an early-morning accident in a closed area of Aspen Mountain. The time of the crash was estimated to be around 1:30 AM. The cause was a collision with a stationary object.

March 3 – A skier dies after being caught in an avalanche on Lizard Head Pass. They were found buried under several feet of snow.

March 7 – A backcountry skier dies after being caught in a large avalanche on Jones Pass during a high-risk point of the season. During the time of the accident, the skier was leading a tour with a backcountry skiing company called Powder Addiction.

March 14 – A skier is found deceased in trees directly off of a run at Copper Mountain. The cause of death was later determined to be acute heart failure.

March 21 – A juvenile female dies following a collision with a tree at Breckenridge Ski Resort. The skier was later determined to be a 10-year-old tourist.

March 21 – A 56-year-old man falls in expert terrain at Aspen Highlands. He is initially revived but later died from his injuries.

April 24 – A snowboarder dies following a fall on Pikes Peak in a couloir east of Little Italy.

May 17 – A skier dies while heading to a backcountry hut after dark in the Vail backcountry. The accident occurred on New York Mountain.

December 8 – A 29-year-old woman is killed by an avalanche while backcountry skiing near Cameron Pass.

December 16 – A skier is found unconscious at Keystone Resort, later pronounced dead. No signs of trauma were present.

Water-related deaths

(34 deaths)

May 5 – A 17-year-old dies while trying to save his dog from a canal in Montrose County.

May 20 – A woman is pulled out of Big Thompson River near Estes Park. She died several hours later at a hospital.

June 1 – An angler finds a body in the Arkansas River in southern Colorado.

June 6 – A man dies while rafting on Colorado’s Eagle River. Five men were in the raft at the time, though only four made it back to the bank after the watercraft flipped.

June 7 – A man’s body is found on a watercraft in Pueblo‘s Fountain Creek.

June 10 – A man dies while on a Boy Scouts of America rafting trip with his son in the Arkansas River. A high-water warning was issued at the time of the accident. The man was wearing a life jacket and helmet.

June 13 – A drowning occurs at Harvey Gap Reservoir after strong winds knock a 37-year-old out of his boat.

June 15 – A Colorado Springs woman fell into the Rio Grande while climbing on a nearby rock. Her body was found 10 days later.

June 17 – An empty boat is found adrift on Lake Pueblo. The next day, authorities find a deceased person believed to have fallen out.

June 20 – A woman dies while on a guided rafting trip in the San Juan River near Pagosa Springs. The woman was found 3 miles downstream.

June 21 – A 31-year-old woman dies while paddle-boarding in swift currents on the Gunnison River. The woman fell off of her paddle-board and got stuck in a tree in the river.

June 21 – A 65-year-old woman dies in a rafting accident on the Gunnison River near Blue Mesa Reservoir.

June 27 – A man goes missing in the Rio Grande River near Creede, Colorado. His body is found a month later.

June 29 – A Fort Collins man goes missing after his raft overturns in Colorado’s Poudre River. He is found dead on July 23 by a kayaker.

June 29 – A paddle boarder is swept away in the Chaffee County section of the Arkansas River. Despite attempts to rescue him, he is found dead.

July 1 – An Arizona man dies after a raft he’s in flips on Clear Creek, west of Denver. He was on a commercial raft at the time of the incident, which occurred near Idaho Springs.

July 4 – A 26-year-old dies in a tubing accident on the Poudre River. Eight others were rescued from a mid-river island.

July 4 – A jet skier goes missing in Jackson Lake State Park. Her body is found days later.

July 5 – A man dies in the Arkansas River after his raft flips. Five people were thrown from the privately owned raft and kayakers were able to rescue four of them.

July 5 – A woman dies on the South Platte River near Fort Morgan after riding over a low head dam while tubing. She was unresponsive when pulled out of the water.

July 6 – A California man dies during a rafting accident on the Green River in the Triplet Falls area. The raft became stuck and the deceased and several others were thrown into the water.

July 15 – A swimmer disappears under the water while returning to shore. They are found dead within an hour of reporting.

July 20 – A woman is swept away in a flooding gulch near Lakewood during a rainstorm. Her body is found a day later.

July 21 – An adult male dies after being swept away by the current in Clear Creek Canyon. He was with a group when swept away, though not utilizing safety gear.

July 22 – The body of a male is recovered in Blue River near Breckenridge.

July 25 – The body of a woman that was swept away in a mountain stream on June 27th is found. The woman and her husband were crossing a creek when their Jeep lost power. They attempted to get to shore, but she did not make it.

July 26 – A man’s body is found pinned against rocks on Eagle River west of Vail.

July 31 – A man’s body is recovered from Eagle river after historic water levels drop. Once identified, he was determined to be a man missing since May.

July 31 – A 16-year-old female goes missing in the Devil’s Punchbowl area of the Roaring Fork River. She is found the next day.

August 7 – The body of an unconscious male is pulled from Boulder Creek. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

August 7 – The body of an adult male is found on Big Soda Lake near Denver. A capsized boat was also found.

August 30 – A woman has a seizure and falls into Breckenridge’s Blue River, eventually resulting in her death on September 5. The coroner characterized the death as a medical event that resulted in drowning.

September 17 – Larimer County Sheriff’s Office gets a report of an overturned kayak and a man in Dowdy Lake. A 76-year-old man is pulled out of the water, but later dies. The man was not wearing a life jacket when he was found.

September 21 – Personal items are found unattended on the shore of Chatfield Reservoir prompting a search. A man’s body was found hours later.

Hiking-related deaths

(11 deaths)

March 28 – A 65-year-old male was found at the bottom of a 75-foot cliff at Horsetooth Reservoir. It was later determined that he died of blunt force trauma. The fall was ruled accidental.

June 23 – A hiker goes missing while reportedly attempting to summit fourteeners in Saguache County. He was found deceased days later.

July 10 – A 64-year-old male hiker dies after collapsing near a Boulder trail.

July 10 – A 61-year-old male dies after falling 200 feet on South Maroon Peak near Aspen. The man had summited with peak with two others prior to the accident.

July 14 – Two hikers are struck by lightning in Boulder County, one dies.

July 16 – A 71-year-old hiker is reported missing on Torreys Peak, found dead a couple days later at 13,600 feet above sea-level. The man was an experienced hiker and had previously climbed on the peak.

July 24 – A hiker makes last contact with his family after summiting Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point – two Colorado fourteeners. He is not heard from again, but is found several days later deceased.

August 6 – The body of a hiker is found above Mirror Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

September 26 – A 63-year-old man dies during a medical event that occurred on the Manitou Incline trail in Colorado Springs.

September 28 – The son of a well-known Pittsburgh television anchors dies in a fall that occurred while hiking in the Colorado mountains.

October 9 – A man dies after taking a short hike while on the road to the summit of Pikes Peak. The incident reportedly occurred in the Devil’s Playground area.

Climbing-related deaths

(6 deaths)

May 18 – A man dies in Eldorado Canyon State Park after falling 100 feet while rock climbing.

May 18 – A man dies after taking a fall while rock climbing in Poudre Canyon.

June 6 – A female teen dies following a rappelling accident in Clear Creek Canyon, located near Denver. The accident occurred west of tunnel 5.

June 28 – A climber dies from a fall at Boulder Falls in Boulder County.

July 23 – A climber dies in a fall at Colorado Springs’ Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The man was in an area where climbing is prohibited and climbing during slick conditions.

August 24 – A climber dies after taking a 60-foot fall in Boulder Canyon. The man had completed his climb and was walking along a cliff to find a good spot to descend when a rock gave away.

Off-highway vehicle-related deaths

(12 deaths)

January 13 – A snowmobile death occurs in Mesa County, Colorado. After failing to make a turn, the rider landed in a canal.

February 3 – Two men went missing after a snowcat fell into a frozen lake. Their bodies were later recovered.

February 22 – A man is found dead in the area west of Yampa following a snowmobile breakdown. Frigid weather contributed to his death.

June 3 – A longtime member of the Aspen community is found dead after an apparent snowmobiling accident. The accident occurred on the backside of Aspen Mountain.

July 19 – One person is killed in an ATV crash near the base of Pikes Peak.

August 13 – A woman dies in an OHV accident on Corkscrew Pass near Silverton, Colorado.

September 23 – A Grand Lake woman dies after being ejected from an ATV near the Bull Mountain trailhead.

September 26 – A 54-year-old man dies following an off-roading accident near Breckenridge.

September 26 – A 10-year-old boy dies following a wreck in a UTV in Boulder County.

September 28 – A man dies in an ATV crash near Williams Fork in Grand County. Slick conditions were present at the time of the wreck.

December 18 – An experienced snowmobiler dies after being crushed by his machine on a steep slope. He was utilizing safety gear at the time of the accident.


(19 deaths)

January 15 – Bull rider Mason Lowe dies following injuries sustained at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado.

January 30 – Two die in a recreational vehicle fire.

March 9 – During the first week of March, a person in Crested Butte died following an ‘urban avalanche’ that occurred while shoveling snow off of a roof. Though not outdoor recreation, this death has been included on our list as ‘urban avalanches’ can be a major concern in outdoor recreation-focused mountain towns around the state of Colorado.

March 10 – A 17-year-old is killed during a skydiving accident in Penrose, Colorado. The boy was skydiving for the first time and was diving by himself. 

May 27 – A 70-year-old man dies after a 25-30 foot fall during a stop along a scenic road. 

June 17 – A skydiver dies from brain injuries sustained during an accident that occurred the previous September. The skydiver had made more than 6,500 jumps throughout his life. 

June 30 – Motorcycle racer Carlin Dunne dies at the 97th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This high-altitude race climbs to the top of Pikes Peak. 

July 22 – A skateboarder is found dead in the mountain town of Winter Park, Colorado. The man was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. 

July 24 – A Denver cyclist is hit and killed by a dump truck in Denver.

August 10 – A man dies while competing in a mountain bike race following a medical event.

August 12 – A woman dies while camping near Grizzly Peak in the San Juans after a tree falls onto her tent.

September 4 – A cyclist is killed after a double hit-and-run collision in Aurora that occurred during early morning hours.

September 20 – A hunter dies after collapsing on a high-altitude ridgeline in Aspen.

October 7 – A cyclist is left dead after being struck by a vehicle in Denver.

October 15 – A cyclist is killed in Pagosa Springs.

November 6 – A hunter is found dead in the California Park area of Routt National Forest. The hunter likely died of natural causes.

November 13 – A missing man was found dead after plunging off a scenic drive in a vehicle in the Coal Canyon area of Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area.

November 15 – A bicyclist is hit by a vehicle in Colorado Springs. The injuries led to death. The bicyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Editor’s Note: Here’s an article about why we’ve chosen to cover deaths and injuries that occur in Colorado’s outdoor recreation space.

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run.

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