SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald
When Durango adventurer Peter Carver, 23, was killed in an avalanche Saturday near Silverton, he left behind a legacy of a joy of living that profoundly affected his family and friends.
“He lived life so much,” said Mike Hurst, a partner in Carver Brewing Co. and family friend for 14 years. “He has an amazing family (who) live life with big hearts.”
His mother, Karen Carver, said by phone, “He’s so lovable and so loving.” Still, he did like to shake things up a bit, she said.
Bill Carver, his father, said, “If someone didn’t know Peter, he’d walk up to them and ask what’s going on.”
On Sunday, the Carver family went to the spot where Peter died.
“It helped make it a reality,” Bill Carver said by phone during his trip back to Durango. “We climbed up to where it ended.”
The avalanche area was about 1˝ miles north of Gladstone on Bureau of Land Management land outside the boundaries of Silverton Mountain Ski Area, Melody Skinner of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office told The Durango Herald Saturday.
Bill Carver said it looked as if Peter and his skiing companions, Nate Klema and John Duncan Rothwell, “made good decisions” about where they were skiing and where they stopped. But the avalanche was “unusually massive” and wider than “normal,” Carver said.
He said the slide broke off trees that looked as if they were as big as 8 inches in diameter. Carver said there were very touchy conditions in the mountains.
Seeing the area “solidified the picture for me,” Bill Carver said.
Peter Carver had skiing in his blood and adventure in his spirit, family members said.
Peter’s grandfather, Gerford “Red” Carver, was a ski instructor at Winter Park. Red Carver’s sons, Jim and Bill, started their first bakery there in 1983. They opened Carver Brewing Co. in Durango in 1986.
Peter Carver died a week before his 24th birthday and 13 months after his grandfather Red Carver died.
“We were just getting over that,” Bill Carver said.
Despite the tragedy, Peter’s cousin Brandon said, “He’s one of the best skiers I know. He makes you want to ski better.”
Jim and Brandon Carver gave several examples of Peter’s adventurous spirit.
“He went down to Mexico to learn to sail” but arrived after the boats headed up the coast to California had already left, Jim Carver said as the family headed Sunday to the avalanche site.
Instead, Peter worked on a mango farm, and his mother said he stayed with families growing coffee.
Bill Carver said his son bicycled the Baja Trail, bought a car and sold it for $400, then headed to Alaska where, among other things, he bicycled the Alaska Highway.
Even when he was younger, Peter wanted to go outside the bounds of Durango. Brandon Carver said he did an “exchange” with Peter, which included the latter going to his high school in Ohio for a year.
Later, they had adventures in places such as South America, where Peter pushed the more conservative Brandon into a variety of adventures, such as hopping on a bus with just a Snickers bar and without preparation for a long trip, Brandon said.
But Peter also was developing a serious side, which his parents ascribed to his travels.
“The people who had very little often gave him the most,” his father said. “He felt so humbled.”
That serious side also was revealed in his passion for geology, which he studied at Fort Lewis College, his father and uncle said.
When Peter worked in the oil fields installing combustion emission-control equipment, he set out on a course of study that would lead to developing ways to use carbon resources without hurting the environment, his father said.
FLC is expected to release a statement about the death today.
Karen Carver said Peter was close with his younger brother and sister, Colin and Claire, who are separated by about four years. They all took part in outdoor experiences together when they were younger and used those experiences when they continued their outdoor adventures independently as they got older, she said.
Independence, she said, is reflective of his peer group. “He was his own generation” compared to that of his parents, she said.
Peter’s social side was reflected Sunday in the growing memorial outside Carver’s Brewing Co. with such items as harmonicas, colored markers, notes of love and affection and other items that remind passersby and family who he was..
While such a loss is devastating for any family, Hurst said, “the Carver family is incredibly tight-knit.” The family, and especially Peter Carver, “taught me a lot about life.”