An avalanche at Wolf Creek Ski Area in Colorado early Monday, Nov.22 killed Ski Patrol Director Scott Kay, 41, of Pagosa Springs.
Kay was working to protect others when the snow slid at 7:45 a.m., according to the first statement made by the resort.
"To our great sadness, he did not survive."
Wolf Creek was immediately closed for the remainder of Monday, in honor of Kay, and reopened at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23.
"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," the statement read.
Details of the accident were not immediately released, but soon emerged on Wolf Creek's Facebook page.
Support for the family and plans for a memorial are already under way, driven by members of the Wolf Creek Facebook community.
Facebook user Patricia Shoffner posted, "A memorial fund is being set up at Saint Patrick's Episcopal Church for Scott Kay and his family. Please call the church at (970) 731-5801 for more information. If dropping off a check, please make it payable to the church with 'Scott Kay' in the memo line. Rest in peace, Scott."
"My thoughts and prayers go out to Scott's family, friends and co-workers," posted Brandon Fischer on Wolf Creek's Facebook page. "Rob Pilewski, a Wolf Creek Ski Patrol saved my life once. I am forever indebted to these TOP MEN!"
This marks the first avalanche fatality for the 2010-11 season in Colorado. Wolf Creek had received 18 inches of new snow over the past 48 hours when the accident occurred. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center's (CAIC) Monday morning forecast for the southern San Juan Mountains was upgraded from an "avalanche watch" to an "avalanche warning."
The Center began issuing daily avalanche forecasts for the 2010-11 season last week. The CAIC issues daily forecasts of mountain weather and avalanche conditions to help backcountry enthusiasts stay safe. Avalanche safety experts advise backcountry travelers to always travel in teams of two or more, and carry rescue equipment such as a shovel, probe pole, rescue beacon and Recco device.