by Dalton Carver
Although the region is celebrating the return of snow this winter, the wintry weather has played its part in more than a few mishaps and tragedies – particularly on or near Red Mountain Pass. Another event was added to that list last Saturday following the death of a Colorado man going through an avalanche course in Upper Senator Beck Basin, northwest of Red Mountain Pass.
Peter Marshall, 40-year-old Longmont resident, was caught in an avalanche Jan. 5 during a five-person course on avalanche safety. The course participants, who were skiing, triggered an initial avalanche at 13,000 feet in elevation that caught the entire group, which then subsequently released another.
Marshall was buried a little more than eight feet below the debris of both slides. The remaining members of the group were able to extract Marshall from the avalanche but were unable to revive him.
It’s unknown how long Marshall was underneath the slides or the exact time the avalanches occurred.
The CAIC investigates fatal avalanche events and posts a preliminary report of the situation within 24 hours. After further investigation, CAIC releases a final accident report, which sometimes takes a week or more to complete. The preliminary report on Saturday’s avalanches can be found at avalanche.state.co.us.
Ouray Mountain Rescue was notified around 3:35 p.m. and responded with two waves, the first arriving at the pass around 4:30 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m.
After arrival, OMRT captain Tim Pasek plotted the incident location and confirmed it was within Ouray County.
The other members of the avalanche safety course group then made their way back to US 550 with the assistance of San Juan County Search and Rescue, OMRT, La Plata County Search and Rescue, Careflight and CAIC.
However, Marshall’s body could not be recovered until Jan. 8 due to the continuing avalanche danger in the area. The situation was considered too dangerous to conduct a recovery Saturday, as there was still a considerable threat of...