‘Real deal’ ski bum dies on Aspen Mountain; CU student dies at Breck
Longtime Aspen resident John Martin “Marty” Gancsos was identified as the skier killed during an out-of-bounds avalanche on the west side of Aspen Mountain on Monday, family and friends confirmed Tuesday.
Gancsos, 64, was skiing with another person Monday in the vicinity of Keno Gulch, just below Ruthie’s Lift on Aspen Mountain. His skiing partner, who has not been identified, was unhurt and reported the accident to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office shortly before 3 p.m. A five-member Mountain Rescue Aspen crew reached Gancsos’ body around 6:40 a.m. Tuesday and transported it to Aspen Valley Hospital.
Meanwhile, a 22-year-old University of Colorado student died Monday after skiing expert terrain at Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Jacob Koltun had been skiing without a helmet on Peak 7, the Summit Daily News reported. Breckenridge Medical Center alerted the Summit County Coroner’s Office at about 2:30 p.m. The coroner’s office said Koltun’s death appears to be an accident and did not release any further information.
Koltun’s Facebook page shows he was a senior studying English at the University of Colorado in Boulder and that he was originally from Alameda, California.
In Aspen, the avalanche victim’s brother, Tom Gancsos, a resident of Richmond, Virginia, was reached by phone Tuesday and described Marty as a free spirit, “a good man who will be missed by the family.”
“He lived his life the way he wanted to, and his love was Aspen, the mountain and the river,” Tom Gancsos said. Marty Gancsos was an avid skier and kayaker. “There’s never a good way for this to happen, but in the end, he loved his skiing, and if he had to die, I guess doing what he loved best was not a bad way for someone to go,” his brother said.
Marty Gancsos is survived by his partner of 37 years, Marilyn Anderson, whom Tom Gancsos described as his companion and best friend.
“They did everything together,” Gancsos said, adding that they went skiing together Monday. “They were the best of friends, not just companions.”
Marty Gancsos worked various jobs during his time in Aspen, including roles at the Steak Pit restaurant and most recently Little Annie’s. He also spent a year and a half working at Clark’s Market, where store manager Tony Welgos regarded him as a “real deal” ski bum.
“He didn’t care about jobs and making money,” Welgos said. “That was his deal — skiing, and of course he kayaked.”
Welgos said Marty Gancsos was light on his skis and described his abilities as enviable. Aspen Mountain was his forte, Welgos said, and he loved showing people around the slopes.
“Every joint in his body was a perfect turn,” Welgos said.
Marty Gancsos’ adventurous spirit was not without risk. Welgos recalled an incident three years ago when Marty Gancsos broke both of his legs while skiing Aspen Mountain’s Jackpot run.
In a letter to The Aspen Times dated April 2012, Marty Gancsos thanked the Aspen Mountain ski patrol and emergency responders for assisting him after the crash. He also thanked the many friends who visited him during his more-than-30-day stay at the hospital and recovery center.
Monday’s out-of-bounds run on the west side of Aspen Mountain was not a first for Marty Gancsos. Welgos’ wife, Kathy, joined Marty Gancsos for turns through the same route about a year and a half ago.
“The comment he made to her was, ‘Kathy, you’ve got kids, so I’m going to go first in case something happens,’” Welgos said.
A Johnstown, Pennsylvania, native, Marty Gancsos first came to Aspen with his brother during a ski trip about 40 years ago. Tom Gancsos said his brother fell in love with Aspen and never returned east.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.