Five Die In Colorado Avalanche On Loveland Pass; Vermont Ski Personality Included
A deadly avalanche near Loveland Pass in Colorado claimed the lives of one skier and four snowboarders Saturday (April 20). It was the deadliest such event since 1950, the year documentation of avalanches began.
All five were highly experienced backcountry enthusiasts, experts in their sport. There was irony in that the tragedy occurred at the Rocky Mountain High Country Bash, an event established to raise money and awareness for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The backcountry slide was reportedly several hundred yards from the easternmost chairlift of Loveland Ski Area. The avalanche location was not visible from the road.
Investigators told media the group was walking up a drainage area called Sheep Creek when they triggered the avalanche, which measured about 650 feet long and eight feet deep. The pass, at 11,990 feet, is popular with backcountry skiers and snowboarders.
The deceased all carried the necessary equipment, including avalanche beacons and shovels. The Aspen Business Journal reported the slide as four feet deep and 500 feet wide.
Among the five was Ian Lamphere, originally from Morrisville, Vt., near Stowe. The 36-year-old Lamphere attended the University of Vermont and was the co-founder and developer of the Stowe Mountain Film Festival. In 2009 he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Vermont Ski Museum. He recently founded Gecko Climbing Skins, based in Crested Butte, Colo., and for the past seven years, he had been Vice President of Stockli Skis.
The others who lost their lives were Chris Peters, 32, from Lakewood; Joe Timlin, 32, of Gypsum; Ryan Novack, 33, of Boulder; and Rick Gaukel, 33, of Estes Park. Another snowboarder, Jerome Boulay, of Silverton, was partially buried but survived.
Lamphere leaves behind his fiancée and an infant child. According to the Denver Post, he was wearing skis with skins attached when he was engulfed on Saturday afternoon.
Upon graduating from UVM in 1999, Lamphere taught English and Math at the Mount Mansfield Winter Academy in Stowe. In addition, he was a race coach at the Mount Mansfield Ski and Snowboard Club, and spent time under the employ of Stowe Mountain Resort and Smuggler’s Notch.
A versatile individual with many interests, Lamphere was an avid outdoorsman, musician and writer. In 2004, he collaborated with cinematographer Adam DesLauriers on the alpine series Backcountry TV, which was nationally distributed.
Top Photo: Avalanche area, Loveland Pass (CBS); Bottom photo: Ian Lamphere (GeckoSkins.com)