Candles, doves mark memorial for Aspen couple who died on Capitol Peak

Family, friends gather to remember Ryan Marcil and Carlin “Carly” Brightwell

Hundreds gathered Friday at Herron Park on a warm, clear Aspen evening to remember a local couple who died Sunday on Capitol Peak.

“This is not our hometown, but I feel like it is,” Roger Marcil, father of Ryan Marcil, told the young crowd of mourners. “You guys made us feel special in a horrible time in our life.

“If I have to go, I want to go in Aspen.”

He said he has marveled at the number people who have come up to him since he and his wife and daughter have been in Aspen and told him about his son.

“This is not our hometown, but I feel like it is. You guys made us feel special in a horrible time in our life.”
— Roger Marcil, father of Ryan Marcil

“I knew I had an amazing kid,” Roger Marcil said. “He was more amazing than I realized.”

Ryan Marcil, 26, and Carlin “Carly” Brightwell, 27, died while descending Capitol Peak on Sunday. Their bodies were found Tuesday afternoon.

Henry Brightwell, Carly’s father, told the crowd that his family thought Ryan was amazing, too.

“We fell for Ryan so hard,” he said. “It was just like Carly said a million times.”

He said he can still vividly picture going on a recent hike with the happy couple, with Ryan looking “like a freak of nature” and Carly “out in front like a rabbit.”

“That picture of them on the trail is what I’m taking with me,” Henry Brightwell said.

He told the crowd that Ryan and Carly would want them to raise several glasses, “keep partying like they would and be careful out there, goddammit.”

“There’s a lot of you in Carly and Ryan,” Henry Brightwell said.

Christina King, founder of the mental health advocacy nonprofit Aspen Strong, asked the crowd to keep loving and supporting one another. Ryan served on the board of the organization.

“I encourage you to hug somebody extra-special and tell them you love them,” King said. “The last words I said to Ryan and Carlin were, ‘I love you and be safe.’ They said, ‘I love you, too.’

“I’m so grateful for that.”

Photos of the couple were displayed throughout the park and included a touching love letter Ryan wrote to Carlin.

The memorial began as the shadows lengthened Friday evening and Aspen Volunteer Fire Department Chaplain Roy Holloway led off with a prayer.

“Everywhere is the passion and love they had for each other, for this community,” Holloway said. “The best thing you can do is continue that.”

Two female family members then released two doves into the air before the families embraced. A female singer accompanied by a quiet electric guitar next sang Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”

After King and the two fathers spoke, the crowd lit candles and formed a large semi-circle while Ryan and Carly’s families walked into the middle and embraced during two to three minutes of emotional silence. At the end, the families and the crowd lifted the candles to the sky.

A second memorial will be held Sunday at Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus, where Carly worked, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

During his remarks to the crowd, Roger Marcil said he’d like to see an “initiative” grow out of the deaths of his son and Carly that offered information on the proper routes to take and firsthand accounts of the dangers of a mountain like Capitol Peak.

“I’d be willing to help spearhead that,” he said. “So many people have died on these mountains.

“No one more needs to go like these two.”