An avalanche killed five snowboarders in a backcountry skiing area known as Loveland Pass, about 60 miles west of Denver, on Saturday. The avalanche occurred some 3,600 meters above sea level.
It is the deadliest avalanche in Colorado since 1962, when seven people were killed when an avalanche buried houses at Twin Lakes near Independence Pass, the Denver Post reported. Avalanches have now killed 11 people in Colorado during the 2012-2013 snowboarding and skiing season.
The Clear Creek Sheriff's Office identified the five victims as Christopher Peters, 32, from Lakewood, Colo.; Joseph Timlin, 32, from Gypsum, Colo.; Ryan Novack, 33, from Boulder; Ian Lanphere, 36, from Crested Butte, Colo.; and Rick Gaukel, 33, from Estes Park, Colo, according to the Denver Post.
A sixth man who was snowboarding with the group survived.
According to the Denver Post:
The recent deluge of heavy, wet snow and high winds in the high country has spiked avalanche danger in the Central Rockies at a time when snowpacks are typically stabilizing and getting safer for backcountry travel.
“We are very much in a winter snowpack right now. The calendar may say it's April, but the snowpack looks more like February, and it needs to be treated as such,” Colorado Avalanche Information Center executive director Ethan Greene told the Denver Post.
"I feel really bad for these guys,” Tim Brown, a Summit County avalanche forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, told the Denver Post. “I think they were trying to do a lot of things right. These weren't guys who were reckless and didn't care. They all had gear, and I think they cared about making good decisions.”
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