GEORGETOWN, Colo. (AP) — Five snowboarders were killed Saturday afternoon after apparently triggering a backcountry avalanche on Colorado's Loveland Pass, authorities said.
Search and rescue crews recovered the bodies several hours after the slide, which was 600 yards wide and eight feet deep, said Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger.
A sixth snowboarder caught in the avalanche was rescued. That person's condition wasn't immediately known.
Searchers from Clear Creek County, Summit County, an Alpine search and rescue team and Loveland ski resort located the bodies, Krueger said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation closed U.S. Route 6, which crosses the Continental Divide near the scene of the avalanche, to facilitate the search. The pass is heavily traveled by skiers visiting nearby Arapahoe Basin ski resort.
The bodies were taken to the Clear Creek coroner's office. The victims' identities weren't immediately known.
Krueger said authorities were "pretty sure" the snowboarders triggered the avalanche, which he said traveled about 1,000 feet some 100 yards off Route 6.
The avalanche occurred on a busy winter weekend as many skiers and snowboarders took advantage of late season snowfall in the Rocky Mountains. Several area ski resorts opened for the weekend after a snowstorm earlier in the week.
Loveland Pass, at an elevation of 11,990 feet, is popular among backcountry skiers and snowboarders.
Treacherous winter weather is not unusual on the pass, which is about 60 miles west of Denver. Skiers and snowboarders in search of fresh snow often hitchhike from lower elevations to the rocky summit above tree line. The area also is popular among photographers and tourists seeking some of the most expansive views in Colorado.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Spencer Logan said there have been weak layers in Colorado's snowpack since early January.
"Our last series of storms made them more active again," he said. "Over the last week and a half, that area got over 18 inches of snow, so if you melted that that would be 2 inches of water, so that is a heavy load."
Lisa Clarke Devore, who was headed back to Denver from the resort, told The Associated Press she saw a fire truck and ambulance on the pass, as well two search dogs headed into the area of the slide. She said she saw several ambulances, including one towing snowmobiles, driving toward the pass.
On Thursday, a 38-year-old snowboarder died in an avalanche south of Colorado's Vail Pass. Eagle County sheriff's officials said the man and another snowboarder likely triggered the slide after a friend on a snowmobile dropped them off at the top of Avalanche Bowl.
U.S. avalanche deaths climbed steeply after 1990, averaging 24 a year, as new gear became available for backcountry travel. Until then, avalanches rarely claimed more than a handful of lives each season in records going back to 1950.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
The San Diego City Council on Monday rejected Mayor Kevin Faulconer's plan regarding short term vacation rentals, but in a 6 to 3 vote approved City Councilwoman Barbara Bry's regulations plan.
The San Diego International Airport was granted $12.1 million in the Federal Aviation Administration's latest round of awards announced Monday.
A harbor seal with the most severe neck wound that SeaWorld's rescue team had ever seen was returned to the ocean after undergoing rehabilitation at the San Diego theme park.
Burglars hit a Little League snack bar sometime this weekend, ransacking it and taking items of food. The Vista National Little League's snack bar was torn apart and hundreds of dollars' worth of food was gone.
A dispute over perceived animal abuse on a Core- Columbia roadside led on Monday to a stabbing that left a pedestrian nursing a minor wound and a woman behind bars, authorities reported.
A horrifying scene at the zoo in New Orleans over the weekend after a jaguar escaped from its enclosure and killed several animals before finally being captured.
Triple Crown winner Justify has re-located to Del Mar where trainer Bob Baffert is keeping him under observation after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago.
A man accused of stabbing a fellow passenger during a fight on a Greyhound bus, forcing the driver to pull over on the freeway near University City, pleaded not guilty on Monday to an attempted murder charge.
Opening day at the Del Mar Racetrack is this Wednesday; and where the surf meets the turf, it's also the place to see and be seen.