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Death could have been avoided

Dear Editor:

I’m writing to express my disgust in regards to the April 4 avalanche and the decisions that were made by a supposed “avalanche professional” about the snow stability. Apparently Dirk Bockelmann, a guide and avalanche educator at Aspen Expeditions, said that “everything was done by the book as far as avalanche protocol.”

As an avalanche professional myself, I can authoritatively say that nothing was done by “the book” and that Adam’s death was caused by ignorance and sheer stupidity. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) rated that day’s avalanche hazards as “considerable.” There had been 15 inches of new snow, wind loading on western aspects, high temperatures throughout the previous night and day (snowpack never refroze), the slope angles in Maroon/Tonar are 30-45 degrees, and the group was skiing late in the day.



Each one of those items should give you reason to not ski. Put together, the potential for an avalanche was through the roof. The only thing that was not evident from the CAIC’s avalanche bulletin was a statement that said: “If you ski Maroon bowl on 4 April at 2 p.m., you will cause an avalanche.”

I’m disgusted that a “professional guide” (and I say that loosely) would be so careless to ignore all these warning signs, let alone make the statement that “everything was done by the book.”




Jim Henderson

Basalt


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