Aspen avalanche victim died of asphyxia, blunt force trauma |

Aspen avalanche victim died of asphyxia, blunt force trauma

Staff report
Marty Gancsos was killed in an avalanche outside of Aspen Mountain ski area in February.
Courtesy image |

Aspen resident Marty Gancsos died of asphyxia with blunt force back injury as a “significant contributing factor” in Monday’s avalanche on the west side of Aspen Mountain, according to the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office.

The Coroner’s Office released the cause of death Friday evening, listing the manner of death as accidental.

Gancsos skied out-of-bounds with another person Monday in terrain west of Ruthie’s Lift. His skiing partner, who has not been identified, was unhurt and reported the accident to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office just before 3 p.m.

Gancsos, 64, was an adventurous skier and kayaker who had skied that same backcountry terrain before.

Familiarity with terrain is often what gets people into trouble, Aspen zone forecaster Blase Reardon, of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, told The Aspen Times earlier this week while referring to changing snow conditions.

On Monday, the avalanche center’s forecast for the Aspen zone listed avalanche danger as considerable, the third highest danger rating on a five-tier scale.

The avalanche center’s preliminary findings from Monday’s slide report that the avalanche was 20 feet wide at the highest point of the crown face, but widened to about 60 feet after traveling a short distance. It released on old faceted snow that was on the surface prior to Feb. 16, the report said. The vertical distance of the top of the avalanche and the burial point was 630 vertical feet.

“Though the slide was relatively small, it had disproportionately severe consequences because of the steepness of the track and the number of trees in the path,” according to the report.

Gancsos’s death marked the third avalanche death in Colorado for the season, and the first death in the Aspen zone in two winters.

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