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Colorado: Two dead in ski area avalanches

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13-year-old dies on closed run at Vail, small avalanche at Winter Park kills another man, and a snowmobiler is killed by yet another slide near Steamboat Springs

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two skiers died in separate avalanches at Colorado ski areas during the weekend, including a 13-year-old skiing on a closed run at Vail, and another male skier in a small avalanche at Winter Park.

Dangerous avalanche conditions persist in the Colorado mountains today, according to avalanche forecasters.

Additionally, two snowmobilers were involved in another accident at Buffalo Pass, near Steamboat Springs where rescue efforts are still under way, according to Brian Lazar, a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche information Center. The CAIC confirmed the Jan. 22 death of one of the snowmobile riders in an update on its website.

The avalanche at Winter Park ran only about 60 vertical feet and was about 40 feet wide, according to Lazar. Few details have been released, but Lazar said the Winter Park slide apparently involved a man who was skiing in the trees with his family.

The avalanches came after 12 inches or more of new snow fell atop a weak snowpack. Avalanche forecasters had issued a bulletin early Sunday morning, warning of dangerous conditions throughout the Colorado mountains.

Lazar said staff at the CAIC will be speaking with the snow safety directors at all Colorado ski areas regarding avalanche conditions today. An early season snow drought has resulted in one of the weakest and most avalanche-prone snowpacks in recent memory.

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