The bodies of three backcountry skiers killed in an avalanche in southwestern Colorado were found on February 3, two days after they were buried in the slide. Rescue workers spend 12 hours attempting to extract the bodies after the slide on Monday, but inclement weather delayed the recovery.
According to the preliminary report, a group of seven backcountry skiers triggered a large avalanche on a northeast-facing slope around 11,500 feet in elevation between the towns of Silverton and Ophir. Four people were caught, carried, and fully buried. The group recovered one person with minor injuries.
The skiers who did not survive, Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen, and Adam Palmer of Eagle, Colo., were buried in 20 feet of snow and debris. They were all wearing beacons. There have now been 11 fatalities resulting from eight avalanches nationwide since December 18.
Since last weekend, avalanches have killed five people in three incidents. In Utah, two skiers were caught and one was killed in an avalanche outside resort boundaries near Park City Mountain Resort. On the day of the accident, the avalanche danger was rated as high for northeast-facing terrain above 9,500 feet and considerable for northeast-facing terrain between 8,000-9,500 feet. The slope on which the fatal avalanche occurred faces northeast at 9,400 feet, according to the report.
Also on February 3, the body of an unidentified backcountry skier was recovered after an avalanche in the Ammonoosuc Ravine area of White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.
If you are going into the backcountry, please check the current snow conditions at your local avalanches center.