Avalanche claims two Aspen, Colo.-based skiers while training for the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse

Owen Green (left) and Michael Goerne (right) were killed Saturday in an Avalanche on Death Pass in Colorado. [Photo] Courtesy Aspen Times

In an accident following the February 15 storm that dropped two feet of new snow on the Crested Butte, Colo. area, Aspen resident Owen Green, 27, and Carbondale resident Michael Goerne, 37, were killed in an avalanche in the East Brush Creek area dubbed Death Pass.

At the time of the accident, which occurred on Saturday, February 16, the two men were training for the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, a 40-mile backcountry ski race between the towns of Crested Butte and Aspen, reports the Aspen Times. The Grand Traverse is held annually at the end of March.

Crested Butte Search and Rescue discovered ski tracks leading into an avalanche-debris path at 10 p.m. on Saturday night after the skiers were reported missing two hours earlier. The recovery didn’t commence until the following day, however, due to dangerous conditions.

The Aspen Times reports that the slide, occurring near 9,600 feet, buried both men under five feet of snow. Crested Butte Search and Rescue, with the help of a team from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) and Crested Butte ski patrol, recovered the victims early Sunday afternoon, following their beacon signals. The CAIC reported Sunday that the bodies of both men were airlifted from the scene.

Goerne and Green were both known in the Roaring Fork Valley for their time spent coaching lacrosse at the Aspen High School, a team Goerne founded in 2006. Goerne also worked for Jaywalker Lodge, a Carbondale rehabilitation center, for 11 years before more recently working at Sopris Crossfit and Roaring Fork Crossfit. Aspen resident Ashley Ward spoke to the Aspen Times about Goerne’s time spent coaching her two sons, remembering, “Everything he did, he did to the fullest.”

Owen Green spent his professional time in Aspen working for the travel and tourism sector with jobs at Snowmass Tourism, The Little Nell and Exclusive Resorts. “[He was] always up for an outdoor adventure or a movie night in…,” Green’s girlfriend, Kali Kopf, told the Aspen Times. “[He was] an avid fly-fisherman, traveler and best friend.”

This accident brings the number of U.S. avalanche fatalities for the 2018/19 season to 15, with Colorado recording four deaths. The first occurred in early January during an avalanche course on Red Mountain Pass near Silverton, and the second occurred later in the month near Markley Hut, between Crested Butte and Aspen.

The CAIC warns that the avalanche forecast for Tuesday, February 19 is Moderate for most aspects and elevations, and that the forecast calls for, “Three to five inches of light and fluffy snow…today with light winds. Winds are forecast to increase tomorrow and you can expect to see drifting snow and small wind-slabs develop as winds increase.”

Read more about the current conditions in Colorado at avalanche.state.co.us.

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