ARAPAHOE BASIN â€” Life at The Beach continued Friday afternoon, even as news circulated around the A-Basin parking lot that an avalanche on terrain serviced by the Pallavicini chairlift had claimed the life of one skier.
Skiers and boarders clad in bikinis, shorts and tank-tops rode the Exhibition and Molly Hogan lifts, while Grateful Dead music wafted from the second-level cafeteria.
Russell Ferris, a 26-year Summit County resident, said he was not at all deterred from continuing to ski after hearing the news of the avalanche.
â€œI think itâ€™s a freak accident,â€? Ferris said.
Many visitors did not know about the incident, but others who were at the ski area earlier in the day knew something was wrong when rescue workers began to show up.
â€œI saw the helicopter and thought somebody got hurt skiing the regular course,â€? said Pueblo resident Steve Parke, who was skiing off the Exhibition lift all morning. â€œOnce the helicopter comes and they start roping things off, you know somethingâ€™s up.â€?
Park County residents David and Karen Rothrock and their three children were approached by ski area personnel shortly after the slide and asked if everyone in their party was present.
They answered yes, then saw a person being brought down the mountain on a sled. Ski patrollers performed CPR as they took the man into the patrol room at the base, they said.
The man was later identified as David Conway, 53, of Boulder.
Keith Jensen from Englewood sipped a draft beer in the bar and recounted the snow conditions on the Pali face, which he skied 15 minutes before the area near it slid.
â€œI noticed before the slide, things were collapsing; youâ€™d break through between moguls,â€? Jensen said.
He saw the avalanche on his next lift ride, where snow seemed to have been pushed from the trees. â€œI was looking down at 10 feet of debris,â€? he said.
For Toni Linder, however, the news was more jarring. She learned about the avalanche while watching CNN at Keystone and drove to A-Basin, where her 17-year-old son was snowboarding with friends.
â€œI ran over because cell phones donâ€™t work here,â€? she said. At about 2 p.m., she hadnâ€™t yet found him. â€œI think heâ€™s OK; Iâ€™m just gonna make sure.â€?
There were no reports of missing skiers or snowboarders late Friday.
The ski area, in a statement, extended thoughts and prayers to the deceasedâ€™s friends and family.