30-year-old Aspen man dies in early-morning snowboard crash
Aaron Hill, who moved to Aspen to follow his love of wine, died early Sunday morning when he was snowboarding after hours on Aspen Mountain and hit a building near the base of Lift 1A.
The 30-year-old’s death was being felt Sunday through Aspen’s tight-knit hospitality industry.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a friend of Hill’s at approximately 1:30 a.m. Sunday that there was an accident near Lift 1A. The friend, who is not from the Aspen area, said the two had hiked onto the closed ski area and rode down a run once and Hill went back up.
Hill struck the race timing shack near the base of the mountain, about 200 yards uphill from the lift terminal, officials said. Pitkin County chief deputy of operations Alex Burchetta said emergency personnel got to the scene within minutes and were unsuccessful in their life-saving measures.
“The friend said the man wanted to go back up and do another run. The friend stayed at the base and then heard a sound,” Burchetta said Sunday afternoon.
Officials received the call saying Hill had “injuries to the head,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. Burchetta said Hill was not wearing a helmet. It is not known at this time if alcohol was involved.
“We just want people to be aware that dangers exist everywhere, not just in the backcountry,” Burchetta said. “When you’re skiing in a closed area and at night, there are dangers.”
Hill moved to Aspen from New York City in November 2015 to work at Kitchen Aspen as a sommelier, according to his friends and social media posts. A year later he went to work at the Viceroy Snowmass as a sommelier but no longer was working there when he died Sunday.
“He used to come sit at my bar, and the good thing about Aspen is it really is a little bit of a magic mountain in that respect. If you’re in the hospitality industry up there, as soon as you meet somebody, you almost become family with them right off the bat,” said friend Mattias Horseman, who met Hill soon after he moved here. “Aaron is somebody who embodied the hospitality industry like that. His passion for it was great, but also his passion for life was equally as great.”
“He was larger than he appeared in life. He really was a captivating spirit.”
Zach Bowersock met Hill a few years ago through the industry, and said Hill embodied the hospitality spirit. He said Hill was kind-hearted and a friend “to just about anyone, and he really loved being in this town.”
“Working in the hospitality business, we all band together and have that shoulder to cry on,” Bowersock said. “At least 95 percent of us are transplants and we don’t see our families at holidays. Co-workers and peers become your family.”
Jeff Hanle, vice president of communications for Aspen Skiing Co., said in a statement Sunday they were notified at approximately 2 a.m. by local law enforcement about an accident on Aspen Mountain. He said mountain personnel responded to assist law enforcement and ski patrol will help with an accident investigation.
“Aaron was an easy friend to make and great friend to have,” Bowersock said. “He rode hard, worked hard but was always there with a hand when needed. He was good person to share a drink with and a great riding buddy.”
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.