Coroner says Vail snowboarder died of suffocation in an avalanche |

Coroner says Vail snowboarder died of suffocation in an avalanche

Sarah Mausolf
Vail Daily staff writer

VAIL, Colorado – A body recovered just outside the Vail Mountain boundary is that of missing snowboarder Jasper “Jaz” McGrath, Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said Thursday night.

Two skiers spotted the body near the area of Miller Cliffs, an undeveloped area accessed through a backcountry gate that is 1/2 mile west of Bell’s Camp on Blue Sky Basin, outside the Vail Mountain ski area boundary.

McGrath, who was living with his brother in Vail, was last seen in West Vail on Jan. 6, when he left to go snowboarding. Bettis said he died of suffocation in an avalanche.

Due to the volatility of the area and the terrain, Vail Ski Patrol provided resources to remove the victim to a safe location. Vail Mountain closed two lifts in the Blue Sky Basin area in order reallocate patrol resources to the effort and to protect the privacy of the victim.

The area is subject to avalanche and it appears that there was no foul play in snowboarder’s death. The investigation will continue until a positive identification is made.

McGrath, who is from Minnesota, was reported missing on Monday but the search for his was difficult because no one was sure where he went. He did not have a ski pass, so authorities could not confirm whether he had gone skiing on Vail Mountain. McGrath’s brother Joe said Jasper often hiked up the mountain so he could ski without a pass.

McGrath was unemployed but worked for Vail Resorts last winter at the children’s ski school in Lionshead, his brother said.