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Former Durango man dies in an avalanche

Courtesy of Colorado Avalanche Information Center

This is the crown face, or the upper edge of where the avalanche began Saturday. Joseph Philpott, 26, died in the slide. His friend, Alex White, was listed as in fair condition Monday.

By Jordyn Dahl Herald staff writer

A skier killed in an avalanche Saturday in Paradise Bowl near Cameron Pass in north-central Colorado has been identified as former Durango resident Joseph Philpott.

Philpott, 26, and his friend Alex White, 24, were caught in the avalanche about 1:15 p.m. Saturday. White was buried about three hours before being rescued and flown to the Medical Center of the Rockies, according to George Crocket, Jackson County coroner.

Philpott was a junior majoring in forestry at Colorado State University, according to the school’s online records. He is the son of George and Margo Philpott, who both attended Fort Lewis College.

“He was the ultimate adventurer and life-liver,” said his brother, Jim. “He died doing something he absolutely loved. He wasn’t doing anything crazy. ... It was just one of those days.”

Philpott loved the outdoors, and he was a wildland firefighter. He was raised in Durango with his three siblings and graduated from Durango High School.

Saturday afternoon, Philpott, White and two other skiers arrived at the Cameron Pass trailhead. White and Philpott continued up to Paradise Bowl, while the other two skiers headed in a different direction.

Philpott and White skied along the left side of the bowl to the bottom of the path, about 400 to 500 feet below the bowl’s ridgeline, while a dog with the men trailed after. The two looked up to see where the dog was and saw the avalanche release, said Scott Toepfer, mountain weather and avalanche forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

White was flown to the Loveland hospital about 6 p.m. He was in fair condition Monday, said Kelly Tracer, spokeswoman for Medical Center of the Rockies.

There is currently no sign of the dog, Toepfer said.

Philpott is the second person with Durango ties to be killed in an avalanche this year.

Peter Carver died in a slide near Silverton in early February about 1˝ miles north of Gladstone on Bureau of Land Management land outside the boundaries of Silverton Mountain Ski Area.

John Duncan Rothwell, 53, was injured in the accident, and Nate Klema, 23, escaped without serious injuries.


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