By Mike Rosso
On February 4, 2017, U.S. Forest Service employee and Salida resident Brett Beasley, along with a teenaged boy, set out from 11,380-foot-high Uncle Bud’s Hut near Leadville for some backcountry skiing.
The weather then turned bad. A fast-moving blizzard blew in and the pair likely became disoriented, resulting in a frigid night huddled in a snow cave. Rescuers were sent out the next morning after being alerted by the friends and families who were also staying at the hut. Both Brett and the teen were experienced skiers but there was nonetheless much concern about their whereabouts and health. Around 2:30 that afternoon, the pair were finally located in the Porcupine Gulch area, nearly three miles from the hut.
The boy was apparently unharmed and was taken by snowmobile to his family. Meanwhile Brett was treated at the scene for severe hypothermia. The weather conditions did not allow for a medical helicopter which may have aided in his rescue and he died on the scene on Feb. 5, his 47th birthday.