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Avalanche Death at Arapahoe?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Anyone have anything on the death of Dale Jaeger at Arapahoe last week?
Dale had two kids on my team 20 years ago and was a good friend and ski buddy back when. He moved to Colorado(Littleton I think) to retire and "live the dream".
post #2 of 6
Hi Slatz--

Here is a link to an article in the Summit Daily News about the accident.

Because that article will probably not last long in the Summit Daily News archives, I'll summarize its contents here for you. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Apparently, Dale was skiing by himself down the East Wall at Arapahoe, when he fell head first into the deep, soft spring snow. He had been buried in the snow from his head to his abdomen for 20 minutes or so when they found him, and he died of asphyxiation. There was no avalanche involved.

My sincere condolences on the death of your friend, Slatz.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 6
Wow, it looks like that link is already starting to cause problems. The article is still available on the Summit Daily News site (www.summitdaily.com), if you do a keyword search. Here is the full text of the article--hope the Summit Daily will not object:

(Article from the Summit Daily News, May 27, 2004, http://www.summitdaily.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artikkel?SearchID=73172828943156&Avis=SD&Dato=2004 0521&Kategori=NEWS&Lopenr=105210013&rs=2 )

A-Basin skier death deemed asphyxiation

May 21, 2004

ARAPAHOE BASIN - Wednesday's skier death at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area has been ruled an accident by Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson.

The death is the seventh this season at the state's ski areas and the fifth in Summit County. A skier fatality is defined as one in which a person has died due to a trauma-related collision with another individual, tree, sign, structure, etc., within ski area boundaries during resort operating hours.

Richardson said an autopsy performed Friday morning deemed the death of Dale Jaeger, 62, of Littleton, to be accidental. Jaeger was found by ski patrollers on the East Wall Wednesday afternoon head down and buried in about three to four feet of heavy, wet snow and in cardiac arrest.

Richardson said the preliminary cause of death was asphyxiation due to suffocation from being buried in snow for about 20 minutes.

A final cause of death will be certified once toxicology results are in, Richardson said.

Alan Henceroth, mountain operations manager at the ski area, said there were no witnesses of the accident.

"It's inappropriate for us to guess what happened," Henceroth said. "He was found head first and partially covered up to his abdomen area in the snow."

Henceroth said there was no avalanche associated with the incident.

It appears the force of Jaeger's fall sent him head first into the snowpack. Such an accident is not unusual, according to Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Nick Logan, who said that spring snow can be heavy due to its water content.

"This time of year, the snowpack becomes isothermal, meaning the same temperature exists throughout in certain areas," Logan said. "Places in the snowpack have free water in it and the liquid water begins to destroy the bonds between the ice grains."

The result is a slushy snowpack that can be very heavy.

"It's not a common occurrence but not unusual for people to fall head first" into the snow and have trouble getting up, Logan said.

More common than getting stuck in heavy spring conditions is for people to get stuck in soft snow, wherein the skier or rider can't push on anything solid because the snow is so powdery, causing them to sink deeper and deeper and have trouble turning themselves upright.

"It can happen," Logan said. "If you can't maneuver, you can't get out."

Jaeger had been skiing with a friend Wednesday who reported him missing after finishing a run on the East Wall and not meeting up at the bottom.

Ski patrollers searched for Jaeger by retracing his ski tracks over the lower East Wall and found him unconscious. Patrollers administered advanced life support procedures before Jaeger was transported to the base medical facility, where he was later pronounced dead.

The ski patrol received the call about Jaeger being missing at approximately 1:20 p.m.

Henceroth said the accident probably occurred when conditions were "somewhere in between" the morning crust and the afternoon slush typically seen on the slopes at the end of a spring day.

The Summit Daily News originally reported that Jaeger was 63 years old. He was actually 62.
Between this accident, and the tragic death of my friend, Copper Mountain instructor Jeff Ferber, killed on his bicycle by an "inattentive driver" as he waited on the roadside for another cyclist, it has been a hard week in Summit County.

Life is precious. Jeff and Dale both showed us how important it is to live it to its fullest!

From one of the last e-mails I received from Jeff:

"In closing, everyone be as well as you can in this New Year and live life as fully." --Jeff Ferber

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you Bob.
I guess doing what you love is the best we can hope for. There are a lot worse ways to die.
post #5 of 6

my condolences on the loss of another friend- michael
post #6 of 6
I'd like to take a moment to echo Bob's sentiments about the loss of our friend Jeff.

He was a wonderful human being with a smile and heart as big as those goofy over the glasses goggles he wore. Over the past 4 seasons I had the privledge of being his friend, one of his trainers and coming to know what a special person he truly was. Jeff was a semi retired accountant from Brooklyn as brash as most New Yorkers. Only Jeff could get away with telling a new ski school director don't worry about learning the staff's names because he wouldn't be here next year. Under that brashness he cared so deeply for people and his students. A few years ago he "adopted" a school in Alaska and was constantly sending the kids books since the school was very poor.

Jeff, we will miss you. At least I know as you now make turns in a better place you'll finally be out of the backseat!!
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