Crash on Ajax claims life of Denver skier |

Crash on Ajax claims life of Denver skier

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A Denver man died Saturday afternoon after skiing into a tree on Aspen Mountain.

Brad McFadden, 61, was apparently skiing on International, a black-diamond run on the west side of the ski area, when he veered “into the top area of S-1, the uppermost dump right after Bear Paw,” said Jeff Hanle, spokesman for the Aspen Skiing Co.

The top of S-1 is one of the steepest pitches on Aspen Mountain. It is between the Bear Paw glades and Short Snort in the Mine Dumps area. The entrance to the narrow run is at the bottom of International, where a catwalk swings most skiers back left toward Ruthie’s Run.

If a skier were to come down International with speed and miss the catwalk, they could very quickly find themselves over the edge and plunging down S-1. The top of the run is normally very rocky and is lined with aspen trees.

Ski patrollers arrived at the accident scene around 1:42 p.m. and found McFadden about 100 to 150 feet down S-1 against a small aspen tree. He was unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing.

Resuscitation efforts lasted until 2:50 p.m. when, after multiple radio and phone consultations with a doctor at Aspen Valley Hospital, the victim was pronounced dead.

Friends skiing with McFadden told mountain patrollers and emergency responders that he was an experienced skier. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. However, the victim experienced severe trauma to his torso in the accident, said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy George Kremer.

“There was a lot of trauma on the body,” he said. “It was probably traumatic arrest, but until an autopsy is done, we won’t know if the trauma is incidental to his death.”

McFadden’s body was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital. Pitkin County Coroner Eric Hanson will continue to investigate the death this week.

The accident was the first ski-related death in Aspen this season, but was the fifth death on Colorado’s slopes so far this season. Two other skiers have died on state ski areas due to health problems.

Colorado set a grim record last year with 14 ski deaths ? five of which occurred on Aspen-area mountains.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is]

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