I am sad to report that I just got home from a SAR call-out to an avalanche incident in Darby Canyon, where one skier perished. I got the call-out at about 5pm Saturday afternoon.
From what I can tell, two brothers (one from Driggs, one from Steamboat) were ascending the the western slope of Peak 10,028, which is a spur ridge off of Fossil Mountain, from the South Fork of Darby Canyon. One was on a splitboard and the other on telemark gear. As they skinned to the top of the ridge, the slope avalanched, taking the skier (from Steamboat) about 1500-2000 feet down the mountain. The debris came to a stop uphill from the summer trail.
The splitboarder immediately went into search mode and dug out his brother from under 3-4 feet of snow as soon as he could. CPR was initiated until SAR could respond with advance life support (ALS) equipment. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and he didn’t survive, most likely a victim of trauma. As it got dark, the use of the helicopter was no longer available. Considering the current snow conditions and avalanche danger, the call was made to recover the body in the morning. Rescuers were unable to capture the victim’s dog who was also on the scene, so it stayed with his master through the night.
The body recovery went smooth in the morning using a long-line from the helicopter. Unable to gain the dog’s trust enough to load him in the helicopter, rescuers skied out…and luckily the dog followed, to be reunited with his masters fiance. One upside to hold on to from the past 18 hrs. Condolences go out to all the parties involved and remember to send them some positive vibes the next time you are in your own church.
Please be careful in the backcountry as Spring approaches and the snowpack goes iso-thermal in the warmer temperatures. Getting an early start is key!
That just always sucks!Hope it wasn’t anyone you/we all know.
Thanks for posting this, Romeo. I was hoping we had heard the last of these stories.
Please keep us updated.
Sending love to his family.
Paul was a good friend of mine. We had worked together on Western state college Mountain REscue team. He will be missed by all that knew him. My condolences to his wife, brother and entire family. Thanks to all of the rescuers who went up to assist in his recovery. Be safe out there!
Vail Mountain Rescue Group
Steve – Thanks for the report. I new him (and his wife, Jess) well from adventure racing as well as living in Gunnison County during his years at Western State College. He and his wife were married about 10 months ago…….I’m pretty overcome with sadness right now. Any photos of the area? Alwyas looking to learn something from these situations.
I heard that he was also a SAR member…which is always a good thing, and that he and his wife were planning on moving to Driggs in the near future. Sounds like he would have loved the area.
I just got some pictures emailed to me and I will forward them to you. Not many rescuers got into the site of the avalanche. I was positioned at the summer trailhead as back-up in case something went wrong with the recovery. I think timing played the biggest role in this incident.
SO sorry for the loss of your friend guys. It is really sad.
Pete is a friend and neighbour. He and his girlfriend Kayla contribute enormously to our town, always at the city meetings and events. They are also a great resource and help to anybody who walks through the door at the mountain shop they manage. Pete was extremely excited about the prospect of his brother and sister-in-law moving to Driggs, making this all the harder. I know that Pete will have alot of support in overcoming this tragedy. To Pete, Kayla, Jess, Dick and Nina…our deepest condolences.
From your description this sounds like it was a wet release above them…is this correct? Paul was one of the alternative school teachers here in Steamboat. He was great at working with at-risk kids who needed a positive male role model. He would have turned 25 on Sunday. A big loss for this community.
It was a slab for sure…and it propagated down the skiers left side of the slope/gully, funneling more snow into the run-out zone.
I know that there has been a lot of press on this incident. I am very fortunate that search and rescue located my brother, his loyal dog Mica, and I in the Tetons just before dark. Search and Rescue did a wonderful job recovering each of us (including Paul’s loyal dog.) Since Paul was a Search and Rescue Leader in Gunnison, CO we have set up a Memorial fund to benefit three search and rescue organizations: Teton County WY SAR, Teton County ID SAR, and Gunnison, CO SAR.
Donations can be made to:
Paul Maniaci Memorial Fund
Wells Fargo Bank
PO Box 774888
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
I have much more information about this avalanche and am willing to share what I have learned. I hope this experience can help out in a positive way somehow. firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, there is a memorial Saturday, March 24th at the Teton Tepee between 4pm and 8pm. It will be a Potluck with Paul’s favorite beer on tap–Fat Tire.
Another memorial will be held in Gunnison on Wednesday, March 28th.
Thanks for talking to us here at TetonAT.com. I can’t imagine how the last few days have been for you.
It is great to see you trying to make the best of the situation and your fund raising efforts are truly a sign of the kind of person your brother sounded like.
Thanks for the information on the services. I’m sure it will be a special day.
Keep the pace Pete!
Paul was a good friend of ours. We will miss his company. Jess, we are thinking about you and hope you will let us know if there is anything we can do for you. Paul was a teacher at the Gunnison Valley School, where he was loved by all who knew him. The students at GVS will always remember Paul through stories and laughter. We will miss you TP!! Dave and Heather
I became friends with Paul sophomore year at Western State College in Gunnison Coloroado. Looking back and remembering times that we spent together I can’t remember a time that wasn’t overflowing with happiness. Paul had a natural respect for the outdoors and nature that I will forever envy, he always seemed so at ease, calm and exactly where he belonged.
Paul was an amazing teacher, from the day I met him he was always teaching me something. From my first mountain bike ride at Hartmans, clipping in and out of clipless pedals in my front yard, lead climbing in penatente to truly believeing in myself and my dreams. Myself a ski instructor, I watched in awe as he taught students from the Gunnison Alternative School to tele. The relationships that Paul built and kept with the people he taught are indescribable, he had a way of bonding with people that made them feel overcome with comfort.
Paul was always there for me, and I’m sure all of his friends. I never heard him complain and never remember seeing him frown. He always had a way of looking at the bright side of every situation.
Thank you Paul for making this world a better place, for putting brightness and fun in everyday that I got to spend with you and for sharing your enthusiasm for life with everyone you met. You’ve touched more people in your 24 years than most people will in their entire lives.
Not a single Hartmans ride will go by without a smile to remember you by. Thank you for everything, you truly are an amazing person, friend and idol.
My name is Kristina Baker and I was one of Pauls students. We had a couple of nicknames for Paul like TP and T-Pizal. We had him for a teacher for a year to sub for another. We didnt think the other teacher was going to come back so we also thought Paul wasnt going to leave. But by the middle of the year we found out he had to go. Paul and I grew close, mabey the closest I have ever been to a teacher. But to me and my classmates he wasnt just a teacher but a mentor, a friend, and a part of our famliy. Speaking on half of the Gunnison Vally School we are not goning to miss him for he will always be here. In our hearts in our minds but most of all in our memories. Sending Lost Of Love. GVS.