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.
A transient accused of fatally stabbing a man after they got into an argument near a 7-Eleven store in Poway pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge.
Coastal rail closures could complicate the commute for the thousands of people expected at Women's Marches set for downtown San Diego and San Marcos Saturday, though additional transit options are being made available.
A man arrested in the doctor's lounge at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa after claiming to be an anesthesiologist pleaded not guilty Friday to a felony charge of treating the sick without a certificate.
People who bought new homes in Otay Ranch's Village of Escaya can start moving in Friday - later than planned but after the developer took steps to address methane found at the site.
Recent assaults by tactical teams on prototypes of President Donald Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico found their imposing heights should stop border crossers, The Associated Press has learned, a finding that’s likely to please security hawks but raise concerns about costs and environmental damage.
Two of the region's largest federal enterprises, military bases and border patrol, are unlikely to face major disruptions in the event of a looming government shutdown that experts say likely is to occur at midnight.
Unicorn Fest is sure to be a blast. There will be lots of vendors selling unicorn themed food, drinks, treats, clothing, accessories, and performers that are sure to entertain.
He's known for several of his hilarious roles in films like 'Dumb and Dumber', 'Something About Mary', and 'Half Baked'. Harland Williams is in town this weekend at American Comedy in the Gaslamp.
An active duty member of the Military who started a mobile app that is like craig's list for the military!