LEADVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – Two skiers are dead and several others are injured after a large avalanche in Lake County.
The avalanche happened on Star Mountain around 5 p.m. on Saturday in Independence Pass near the town of Twin Lakes.
This is an area that is one of the last trailheads before the road is closed.
A total of seven skiers were responsible for triggering the slide.
“They all had beepers all the equipment they needed. It was just unfortunate what happened,” said Lake County Sheriff Ron Fenske.
There is a special avalanche advisory for this area that lasts through Monday.
Backcountry travel is not encouraged and experts emphasize that human triggered avalanches are likely on all steep slopes.
“We get people cross country skiing up here all winter long. One of our biggest fears is just what happened,” said Fenske.
Luckily emergency crews got the call immediately.
“They got lucky. There’s no cell service up here at all. The one man who made the cellphone call, he was up top and when he hit the button and it just happened to bounced off and went through,” said Fenske.
Search and rescue volunteers weren’t sent in to recover the two bodies until officials from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center deemed the snow after the slide to be safe.
“We get a lot of cross country skiing up here on Independence Pass however most people try and stay away from the known avalanche paths. Why these people skied into it, I don’t know,” said Fenske.
The two bodies were recovered by crews Sunday afternoon.
Two of the skiers were unharmed while three were taken to a hospital with injuries that included several broken bones and a collapsed lung.
One of the skiers was treated and released while the other two remain in the hospital.
Lake County officials haven’t identified the skiers but some of the injured survivors are locals from Twin Lakes.