A Colorado avalanche on Saturday has claimed the lives of two skiers. The two men were part of a group of seven that were caught in the snowslide in the rugged backcountry, east of Aspen in the Colorado mountains, reports Fox News on Sunday.
Susan Matthews, a spokeswoman for the Lake County Office of Emergency Management, said search and rescue crews had worked throughout Saturday and Sunday to locate the group and recover the two bodies. The skiers were all wearing emergency beacons that would alert each other as to their locations.
Matthews said searchers braved “very, very steep” terrain and risks of another avalanche in rescuing the skiers.
High amounts of snow – record levels in fact – along with changing conditions and temps have combined to create “very unstable conditions” Matthews said. “For those people who are not prepared to be in those backcountry conditions, unfortunate incidents happen.”
Officials have not released the names of those killed. Among the other injuries sustained in the group were a broken leg, a broken ankle, broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has recently issued strong warnings regarding unstable conditions. Since Feb. 8, avalanches have already killed eight individuals in the western U.S.
“We are seeing very dangerous avalanche conditions developing from basically the New Mexico border north to Wyoming," the center said in an advisory issued Saturday. "And the problem list is about as complicated as it can get. We are seeing very large avalanches taking out very old trees, mine buildings that have been around for many decades, and avalanches burying roadways with 20 feet of debris.
“People have been getting caught and killed in avalanches recently. These are glaring, flashing and obvious clues that things are not all good across our backcountry. We are seeing a snowpack that is teetering on the brink of critical mass.”