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R.I.P. Marty. Aspen back-country avalanche claims local skier.

R.I.P. Marty / Courtesy PhotoLong-time Aspen local skier Marty Gancsos lost his life in an avalanche in the Aspen back-country on February 23. He was 64.  He is survived by his partner Marilyn along with family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his people.

R.I.P. Marty.

I ran into Marty almost every day on Aspen Mountain. I knew Marty well enough to say hi...but not well enough to know his last name.  I was aware of one thing about Marty... he loved the POW POW and he loved to ski. When I realized that Marty was not actually a member of The Dogs (an Aspen Mountain ski gang), I warmed up to him.  We skied a few laps together.  He showed me some nooks and crannies in the Cone Dumps and the Bonnie Brae area.  You can learn a lot from a guy who's been skiing Ajax regularly for 40 years.  We all can learn from the events that led to Marty's last run.

Marty was a good guy.  A friendly guy.  He was a strong, expert skier who skied almost every day.  He lived his life by his own set of rules and he did not apologize for that. His love for skiing was obvious and he proclaimed it emphatically on every gondola ride.

Yesterday was the first real POW day we've had in a while.  Avalanche danger was high to extreme.  Marty and an un-named partner chose to ski a line, out-of-bounds, off the backside of Ruthies that leads down to Castle Creek Road.  It was a bad choice.   While his ski partner was un-injured, Marty paid the ultimate price and he will never ski another day.

Yes, Marty was doing what he loved.  Thats very true and it sounds almost romantic.  But really, it's just a tragic end to a good man's life.  And "doing what you love" is not a good enough reason to die . With all due respect to his memory, an experienced skier like Marty should have known better.

The mountains giveth and the mountains taketh away   In the ski world and around Aspen it seems to me that too many people are taking too many chances doing what they love.   The back-country is not to be be trifled with.  You hear this statement a lot  "I know that run".  Well...my adventurous friends... if you know that run...you know it can slide.   Yesterday's ski conditions:  8"-10" on top of the settled snow that had fallen about 8 weeks ago and has since been baked by record highs.  You didn't need to be a snow scientist to know that snow conditions were ripe for problems.

Today, the day after, you could feel tha pall over Aspen Mountain. It's a beautiful bluebird Colorado day. As blue as I've seen, but still so sad.    The whole town mourns when one of their own goes down. But it wasn't just the avalanche that killed Marty...it's was bad decision making.  I pray that all the rippers and shredders and sled-heads and skinners and uphillers and back-county-experts...the people who "know that run" can take something positive from Marty's final turns.  If you make good choices you can have a blast in the back-country, if not...RIP.

Respect the Mountain.  Respect the conditions.  Make good decisions and you will enjoy many great ski days ahead.  If it looks and feels sketchy...it probably is.  Playing it safe and making conservative decisions in the back country can save your life.  

It's a tragically sad day in Aspen.  Yes, he was doing what he loved, but a good man lost his life.  



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Reader Comments (2)

Wow, so incredibly sad to lose another local. Your article is outstanding, honoring Marty and also reminding us of all of the things we need to keep in mind!!! Be safe & make good choices out there, many days are better than one tragic loss. We can all make good choices and love this life and these mountains in Marty's honor, and for the rest of our friends who went too soon.

February 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTerri Kafrissen

excellent piece - thank you andrew. i especially dig the empty chairlift image.

February 25, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterprentice boyd billings

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