All three men were involved in or worked for county and city administrations.
“Our hearts are heavy with the loss of these three men,” continued the Eagle Declaration. “Their contributions through their work in local government and local businesses, as well as their personal passions and their impact on the friends and family members they leave behind, have helped shape the community in a way that will last forever. Each and every one of us in both organizations has learned from our examples and we are grateful to call them colleagues. “
A total of eight people have been killed in four avalanches in as many states since last weekend.
In Colorado, ground teams worked 12 hours extracting the bodies, but they couldn’t be removed by helicopter from the mountain due to bad weather, according to a post on the San Juan County’s Office of Emergency Management Facebook page, where The Avalanche started occurred. The skiers were buried in 20 feet of snow and debris and were found with the help of avalanche beacons that they all carried.
“This is deeply ingrained throughout the community,” Jeff Shroll, Eagle County manager, told the Vail Daily. “These guys were so involved.”
Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed described their death as “a real blow to the community by losing them as parishioners and losing the vision they had for the city”.
Palmer and Jessen had been elected to Eagle City Council, Palmer was director of the county’s sustainable communities program, and Bossung was the county’s energy efficiency project. Jessen was also the co-founder of Bonfire Brewing, a popular microbrewery in Eagle.
The skiers were among a group of seven trapped in the avalanche on Monday in an area called “The Nose,” which is between the towns of Silverton and Ophir, south of Telluride. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center had classified the avalanche danger that day as “significant”.
The group skied at 11,500 feet on the northeast slope near the tree line. The Denver-based NBC subsidiary reported that avalanches on northern and eastern slopes can be easily triggered, even from far away or from below.
Four of the seven were completely buried in the avalanche, but the other three were able to rescue a skier who had minor injuries. At least one left the group to get cell phone coverage and call for help, DeAnne Gallegos of the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management told the New York Times.
Search and rescue operations were conducted Monday evening and Tuesday and then suspended due to the risk of further avalanches, according to a preliminary report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Since last weekend, avalanches have killed another five people in three other incidents. On Saturday in Utah, two skiers were trapped and one was killed in an avalanche outside the resort’s boundaries near Park City Mountain Canyons Village, the local sheriff’s office said in a press release.
On Wednesday, the body of an unknown skier who had been reported missing the previous day was recovered from an avalanche in the Ammonoosuc Gorge of the White Mountain National Forest, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
“Backcountry skiing is a risky endeavor that should only be attempted by the best prepared and experienced skiers. This skier had years of experience and was prepared, which was evident from the use of an avalanche transceiver. However, skiing in avalanche conditions is never recommended and can be extremely dangerous, ”wrote Fish and Game officials. “Without the transceiver, it is possible that the skier’s body was only found after the snow had completely melted in the spring.”
In Alaska, the bodies of three hikers were recovered from an avalanche on Wednesday, authorities from the Alaska Department of Public Safety said. The hikers were reported overdue Tuesday night near Bear Mountain in Chugiak, 20 miles northeast of Anchorage. State forces and the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group recently found the hikers buried in an avalanche and reported that they were not carrying any avalanche beacons or location beacons.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center website, which was not updated until Thursday morning to account for the deaths of Colorado skiers, has listed eleven deaths from eight avalanches nationwide since December 18. 23 people were killed by avalanches during the 2019-20 season (December to April), according to the website.