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Experts issue warnings after 3 skiers die in Colorado avalanches

The deaths of three skiers in two avalanches since late last week have prompted state and local authorities in Colorado to warn people visiting the mountainous backcountry areas to monitor the forecast and be careful.

“When recreating in the backcountry, it is essential to check the current state of the avalanches,” DeAnne Gallegos, spokesperson for the San Juan County Emergency Management Office, said Tuesday.

She said people can get the latest forecast by visiting the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website, which shares statewide color-coded avalanche warnings.

Ms. Gallegos said backcountry and Nordic hikers, snowmobilers and skiers should always wear emergency equipment, such as a beacon, shovel and probe, “and be extremely aware of the mountainous terrain. that surrounds you.

She added, “Mother Nature is responsible when you live, work and play in the mountains.”

On Sunday afternoon, a rescue team recovered the bodies of two backcountry skiers who had been reported missing the night before. The Avalanche Information Center said in a preliminary report that the couple planned to ski an area known as the Battleship, which lies southeast of Ophir Pass in the San Juan Mountains, in the southwest Colorado.

Officials said the skiers were caught and buried in an avalanche. San Juan County Coroner Keri Metzler identified them as Albert Perry, 55, and Dr. Jeff Paffendorf, 51, both of Durango, Colo.

Ms Gallegos said their beacons helped other members of their party locate their bodies.

“All agencies wish to extend their condolences to the Perry and Paffendorf families,” the San Juan County Emergency Management Office said in a statement.

These were the state’s second and third fatalities of the 2020-2021 ski season, according to the Avalanche Information Center.

A lone skier died on Friday after being buried in an avalanche at the northeast end of the Anthracite Range in the Rocky Mountains west of Crested Butte, Colo., According to the center.

The avalanche occurred on a northeast trending slope at an elevation of about 10,500 feet, the group said. The Crested Butte Ski Patrol identified the skier as Jeff Schneider, a ski patroller based in Crested Butte.

“Jeff was a bastion of kindness, knowledge, hard work, wit and humor,” the Ski Patrol said in a Facebook statement, adding that “adventure has no better emissary. “

Six people were killed in avalanches in Colorado during the 2019-20 season.

There have been 244 avalanche deaths in the United States in the past 10 ski seasons, according to the National Ski Areas Association, a trade organization for ski area owners and operators.

The majority of avalanches occur in the hinterland, or on terrain outside the operating limits of a ski area, the association said. Off-piste skiers should always ski or ride with a partner, the group said.

“People need to recognize that we have unusual conditions and their usual practices may not put them out of danger,” Ethan Greene, director of the Avalanche Information Center, said in a statement. There have been 132 avalanches reported in the state since Friday, he said.

“As we gain more snow in the coming weeks, avalanches could become even more dangerous,” he said.

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