Mountain volunteer killed in Maroon Bowl avalanche
April 9, 2018
PITKIN COUNTY — Longtime Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteer John Galvin was being remembered Monday, April 9, as an unselfish man who helped when needed and put others first.
Galvin, 57, was killed Sunday afternoon in an avalanche in Maroon Bowl outside of Aspen Highlands resort while skiing with another person.
A 30-year veteran of the rescue organization and longtime resident of the Roaring Fork Valley, Galvin and the other skier were caught in a slide and swept into the trees. The other skier, who has not been identified, survived and was able to call Highlands ski patrol.
Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Monday he knew Galvin for 30 years and worked on many rescues with him over those years.
"He affected hundreds of lives," DiSalvo said. "There was never a more dedicated volunteer. He was the first at the (MRA) cabin and the last to leave."
'Gave and gave'
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Galvin had a strong personality typical of mountaineers, the sheriff said.
"He was a very, very good person who used his time to benefit others," DiSalvo said. "He was a unique, special person who gave and gave and gave to this community."
Recovery efforts were on hold Monday as conditions in the area remained unsafe. However, DiSalvo said late Monday afternoon they got word from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, CAIC, that the bowl had stabilized and crews would try the morning of Tuesday, April 10, to retrieve Galvin's body.
A spring storm overnight Saturday, April 6, left more than a foot of heavy, wet snow in the mountains around Aspen, and it triggered avalanche warnings from the CAIC.
"John helped save lives of hundreds of visitors and locals who were in need while injured or stranded in our mountains," MRA president Justin Hood said Monday in a news release. "John will be missed by all on our team and in our community."
Galvin was a rescue leader and started with the Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteer group in 1988, according to his LinkedIn professional page. He was the president of Couloir Construction Corporation and was a licensed contractor in Aspen and Pitkin County according to his page.
The Maroon Bowl is outside of the Highlands ski boundary and to the hiker's right on the way up the trail to Highland Bowl, which is to the hiker's left. Highland Bowl was closed all day Sunday after the spring storm.
The second skier, who was not seriously injured, was able to communicate with ski patrol, which witnessed the slide, by cellphone and was able to climb uphill and reach Galvin after the avalanche, the Sheriff's Office said.
The preliminary report posted late Sunday by the CAIC said the skiers "exited Aspen Highlands Ski Resort through a backcountry access gate. They were using climbing skins to ascend through an area known as Maroon Bowl."
The CAIC on Sunday morning issued an avalanche warning for much of the Colorado high country after the spring storm. The warning listed avalanche danger as level 4 (on a scale of 5) and warned of "unusually destructive" slides based on the snow.