Skier’s body recovered from Maroon Bowl after avalanche

John Galvin was a 30-year veteran of Mountain Rescue Aspen

Staff report
Maroon Bowl on April 8. The avalanche in the left portion of the image was triggered with explosives. The avalanche on the right, indicated by the red arrow, is the accident site. (Image courtesy of Art Burrows)
Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center

The body of John Galvin was recovered Tuesday morning from Maroon Bowl, where he died Sunday afternoon in an avalanche while backcountry skiing.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said a team of 11 from Mountain Rescue Aspen, where Galvin volunteered for 30 years, went into the field about 8 a.m. Tuesday, and Galvin’s body was returned to MRA headquarters just past 9 a.m.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, “six MRA members were positioned on top of Aspen Highlands to spot and act as a backup rescue team, while four members were inserted into the field via a Blackhawk helicopter from the Colorado Army National Guard’s High Altitude Aviation Training Site.”

A 30-year veteran of the rescue organization and longtime resident of the Roaring Fork Valley, Galvin, 57, and another skier were caught in a slide and swept into the trees. The other skier, who has not been identified, survived and was able to call Highlands ski patrol.

The state-backed Colorado Avalanche Information Center released more information Tuesday on the findings of its accident report, including that the soft-slab slide was triggered by the skiers. It occurred at 11,375 feet and was considered small relative to the path.

“The avalanche failed on a steep, concave slope above a rock outcrop; the debris ran to either side of the outcrop,” the report states. “The skier’s right lobe ran down an open slope with small trees at the bottom. The skier’s left lobe caught the riders (and) ran down an open slope, and then over a rollover steeper than 40 degrees with scattered small and large trees below.”

The Sheriff’s Office said Sunday the skiers were “racked through the trees,” according to the skier who survived. The CAIC previously stated the skiers left Highlands through a backcountry access gate.

The recovery effort was delayed because of dangerous snow conditions after a storm over the weekend left a foot or more of wet, heavy snow in the mountains.

The Maroon Bowl is outside of the Highlands ski boundary and to the hiker’s right on the way up the trail to Highland Bowl, which was closed Sunday because of snow conditions.