Body of Marble-area avalanche victim recovered
MARBLE – The body of 37-year-old Summit County resident James Lindenblatt was recovered from the backcountry south of Marble Monday after he was killed in an avalanche Sunday afternoon, the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office said.
A team from Crested Butte Search and Rescue used a helicopter to retrieve Lindenblatt’s body from the Raspberry Creek drainage shortly after 2 p.m., said Sheriff Rich Besecker. The team sought his permission to enlist help from DBS Helicopters from Rifle because avalanche conditions were so dangerous.
“It was evident to them that the terrain immediately under foot was unstable,” Besecker said.
Lindenblatt was the second person killed in an avalanche in Colorado this winter and the first fatality of 2013. Patsy Hileman, a ski patroller at Snowmass Ski Area, was killed while on duty Sunday, Dec. 30. She was skiing alone when she was swept off a cliff by a small avalanche in permanently closed terrain within the Hanging Valley Wall area.
Lindenblatt was skiing with two other men Sunday when the slide occurred. “Two of them were able to ski out and make this report,” Besecker said. He was unable to say if the other men were caught in the slide. They were not treated for injuries, he said.
All three men were carrying avalanche beacons and other safety equipment, according to the sheriff’s office. The two survivors reported to authorities that they dug their companion out of the snow.
“It was by their speculation that he had died from trauma experienced in the violence of the avalanche,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release issued Monday.
The sheriff’s office received the report of the slide at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. A response team didn’t immediately try to get to the site because of snowy weather, dangerous snow conditions and approaching darkness, Besecker said. A team from Crested Butte Search and Rescue reached a staging area near the site at 10:45 a.m. Monday to assess conditions and strategy. The site is in Gunnison County rather than Pitkin County so Mountain Rescue Aspen wasn’t the primary response team.
Marble is 6 miles off Highway 133 and about 58 miles by road from Aspen.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center sent two members of its team to the site to investigate the slide and prepare a report, according to forecaster John Snook. It was possible they wouldn’t be able to reach the site Monday because of dangerous conditions, he said, but they will investigate as soon as conditions allow.
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After nine months of being shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wheeler Opera House will reopen for local acts. A touchless reservation system will be open to 53 people for in-person at the venue. Online live streaming also will be available.