Patroller killed in Wolf Creek slide

Wolf Creek opened on Nov. 2. Monday's slide marks the first avalanche fatality in the U.S. this season. Courtesy of Wolf Creek

According to a statement released by Colorado's Wolf Creek Ski Area this morning, the director of the Wolf Creek Ski Patrol was killed in an avalanche early Monday morning. The victim's name hasn't officially been released.

"On Monday, November 22, 2010 at 7:45 a.m. our Wolf Creek Ski Patrol Director, while working to protect others, was caught in an avalanche which, to our great sadness, he did not survive," the statement read. "Wolf Creek's management and all its employees wish to express our deepest regrets at this loss of a wonderful man and close friend. Our sympathy and condolences go out to his wife and two children."

Colorado's Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus told The Denver Post that he received a call from the ski area around 10:30 a.m. Monday informing him of an avalanche with a fatality.

The accident marks the season's first reported avalanche fatality in the U.S. During the 2009-2010 winter season, 36 people were reportedly killed in avalanches in the U.S., according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

This isn't the first ski patroller to die from an inbounds avalanche. Last January, a Jackson Hole ski patroller named Mark Wolling was killed performing routine patrol duties in the resort's Cheyenne Bowl before the ski area opened for the day. And in March 2009, Squaw Valley ski patroller Andrew Entin was doing early-morning avalanche control when he was caught in a slide and killed.

Wolf Creek was closed Monday as a result of the fatality but lifts will operate again on Tuesday. The ski area has received 18 inches of snow in the past 48 hours and more snow is forecasted for the coming days.