VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – Authorities in Eagle County confirmed the deaths of two men Sunday. The pair was killed in an avalanche Saturday on Muddy Pass near Vail.
The Eagle County Coroner’s Office has identified the deceased as Dillon Block, 28, and Cesar Almanza-Hernandez, 30. Both were residents of Gypsum.
According to law enforcement, three mono-track riders triggered a large avalanche on Saturday afternoon. All three males were buried, but one victim managed to dig out of the slide.
The other two never surfaced, officials say.
Some witnesses were approached by the one victim who dug himself out. They all rushed to rescue the other two people.
Hunter Schleper was one of those who was approached.
“Two snowmobilers stopped next to us,” Schleper told CBS4 Sunday afternoon. “They asked if we had beacons and shovels, if we could go help locate these guys. Instantly, everyone on our crew was jumping on it.”
“It took a long time to locate them,” Schleper added. “The beacons were showing four to five meters, even when we were directly above.”
Schleper and his friends dug for five hours trying to find and retrieve the bodies. He says Vail Mountain Rescue arrived and said to stop searching because of low visibility and current avalanche danger.
— Matt Kroschel (@Matt_Kroschel) February 16, 2020
Crews returned on Sunday to recover the reported victims.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help the families of Block and Almanza-Hernandez with their memorials.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported Sunday morning about rising avalanche danger in the northern mountains on Sunday. They say the danger will spread to the central mountains on Monday.
“Some very large avalanches are propagating in surprising and unpredictable ways as we have been seeing lately,” they stated on social media. “This advice may seem conservative to some of our users, but the bottom line is, we’re worried.”