Image courtesy Rosemount High School
LOVELAND PASS, Colo. - A published report says a Minnesota native was among the five snowboarders who were killed in a backcountry avalanche on Colorado's Loveland Pass Saturday afternoon.
The victims were listed as 32-year-old Joe Timlin of Gypsum, formerly of Minnesota; 36-year-old Ian Lanphere of Crested Butte; 33-year-old Rick Gaukel of Estes Park; 31-year-old Chris Peters from Lakewood; and 33-year-old Ryan Novack of Boulder.
In an industry profile with Shayboarder.com, Timlin said he was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Minnesota, playing hockey and other team sports.
"He played high school hockey and I knew he was snowboarder," said Derek Anderson, who graduated from Rosemount High School with Timlin in 1999. "When I heard the news I was pretty sad. He was a nice guy."
Timlin moved to Colorado and took up snowboarding in 1996. He lived in Gypsum, near Vail.
"Snowboarding was not just an activity for weekends, it became my lifestyle and more literally, my life," Timlin told Shannon Johnson, editor of Shayboarder.com, in a July 2012 profile interview on the site.
ESPN's X Games website says Timlin helped organize of The Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering and worked as the Rocky Mountain sales manager for various snowboard brands.
"I lost a very dear friend today," said Adam Schmidt, editor of Snowboard Colorado Magazine, one of the event's sponsors. "I helped Joe put this community event together. Everybody in the snowboard community here knew him, and he was an awesome guy. Our hearts go out to the families of those that were lost at Loveland Pass. We are all very saddened by the news we received of this tragedy ... The avalanche triggered above them and pretty much just buried all of them."
Jerome Boulay, of Crested Butte, was the only one of the six experienced industry professionals to survive. He was dug out from the snow.
"It's just a dangerous time of year and an accident went the wrong way," said Cameron, a friend of Timlin's, who remembered Timlin Sunday with dozens of others in a memorial on the slopes in Vail.
"Those guys were out there pushing avalanche education and avalanche knowledge," said Barry Davis, another friend of Timlin.
The night before, friends say Timlin had helped raise money for the Colorado Avalanche Institute.
"He did so much for the snowboarding community in Colorado," said Timlin's friend Cameron.
Authorities say it appears all of the men had the proper equipment.
"Six backcountry snowboarders went out from the top of Loveland Pass, got to the area just above Loveland Valley and apparently, triggered a slide," Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger said Saturday.
Multiple search and rescue crews located the bodies Saturday.
"If he hadn't gotten out, if he would've been buried, too, it's hard telling when we might've found out," Krueger said.
Krueger says the avalanche area is hard to spot. It is not visible from the road.
"If he hadn't gotten out, they may still be buried up there and we wouldn't even know it," Krueger said.
Investigators say the snowboarding group was walking up a drainage area called Sheep Creek when they triggered the avalanche, which measured about 650 feet wide, 1,150 feet long and eight feet deep.
"It appears that they triggered the avalanche low down on the slope much like pulling a log out from the bottom of a wood pile," said Dale Atkins with the Alpine Rescue Team. "It caused the avalanche and quite a large one to crash down on top of them."
The pass, at an elevation of 11,990 feet, is popular among backcountry skiers and snowboarders, especially with a lot of snowfall.
Sheriff Krueger says the powder may be appealing, but with warmer temperatures, it could be deadly.
"It's nasty back there," Krueger said. "It's still avalanche country. There's a lot of wet snow."
This is the deadliest avalanche in Colorado in the last 50 years. In 1962, seven people died in an avalanche near Twin Lakes, Colorado.
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