The man killed by an avalanche on Mount Emmons near Crested Butte, CO Tuesday has been identified as longtime Crested Butte resident, Dan Escalante, 44. Escalante was a former Crested Butte town councilman, a mountain guide, construction worker, and Green Man.
He was skiing with a party of four in the Climax Chutes when a wet slab avalanche carried him into some trees, where he sustained traumatic injuries.
PRELIMINARY: A group of four backcountry skiers ascended Mount Emmons. Descending the northeast side through an area known as the Climax Chutes, the group triggered a shallow long-running wet-loose avalanche. The group descended a ridgeline one-at-a-time, with Skier 1 leading. Skier 1 triggered several more wet-loose avalanches, then descended out of sight down the steepening ridge. The group continued down the ridge after losing contact with Skier 1. One of the wet-loose avalanches carried Skier 1 over a cliff and triggered a deeper, and larger, wet-slab avalanche. The avalanche carried Skier 1 down a very steep, timbered slope. The group found Skier 1 unconscious and injured on the treed slope. They attempted to revive him, but his injuries were too severe. They made contact with local first responders, who assisted the group back to the trailhead. Skier 1’s body was recovered the following day.
Warming temperatures on Tuesday made the snow conditions dangerous, meaning a recovery mission was not safe. The remaining party was able to descend safely out of the field and a recovery mission the next day was successfully completed before noon.
Escalante was a mountain guide with local company Irwin Guides. His bio on their page reads:
Dan has been guiding professionally since 1996 throughout Colorado, the American West, and beyond. Before coming to Irwin Guides he guided rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing, ice climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and winter activities for such organizations as Outward Bound, Colorado Mountain College, & Western State College. Dan has done extensive international traveling & guiding and has mountaineering and rock climbing experience from such places as Yosemite, Alaska, Peru, New Zealand, and Australia. Dan is fluent in Spanish, has been a member of the NPS rescue team on Mount McKinley, worked as a technical rigger for Primal Quest adventure races, is a WFR and holds his AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Certificate