Officials said four out of seven people in the group were "caught, carried, and fully buried in the debris" but one of them had been found

By Joelle Goldstein
February 03, 2021 02:58 PM
3 Skiers Missing After Getting Caught in Colorado Avalanche
Search and rescue teams looking for the missing skiers in Colorado
| Credit: Office of Emergency Management, San Juan County Colorado

A search is underway for three skiers who went missing after "a large avalanche" struck a Colorado mountain, according to officials.

A preliminary report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) stated that the incident occurred on Monday and involved a group of seven backcountry skiers.

The group was traveling between the towns of Silverton and Ophir, near an area locally known as The Nose, when a "large avalanche" was triggered on a northeast-facing slope around 11,500 feet in elevation, according to the report.

CAIC officials said four of the seven skiers were "caught, carried, and fully buried in the debris," but the group later recovered one of them with minor injuries.

However, the other three skiers were never found, which prompted search and rescue operations to start and carry into the night, the report stated.

On Tuesday evening, search efforts were suspended due to "an avalanche hazard," according to the CAIC, which also shared a photo of the overview of the accident site.

The San Juan County Office of Emergency Management confirmed in a Facebook statement that the recovery mission was paused due to "considerable danger" and "hazardous conditions."

"Due to the unstable snowpack, we are experiencing natural and mitigated avalanche activity," the statement read. "Therefore, the recovery mission of the three missing skiers was suspended until the avalanche conditions are stable and first responders can re-enter the dangerous terrain of the avalanche accident site."

3 Skiers Missing After Getting Caught in Colorado Avalanche
An overview of the accident site with the red line representing the path of the group, and the blue lines representing the boundaries of the avalanche
| Credit: Telluride Helitrax

By Wednesday, search and rescue teams were able to continue on with their recovery efforts, the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management announced.

According to San Juan County officials, the identity of the three skiers is still pending per the San Juan County Coroner's Office investigation.

While they continue search efforts, Colorado authorities are reminding people about the risks of avalanches — similar to how they did back in December after a series of avalanches killed three skiers in Colorado over a singular weekend.

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"Avalanche danger in the backcountry is always unpredictable, regardless of your avalanche knowledge and skills," the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management wrote. "It is critical to check the avalanche forecast and avalanche danger prior to venturing into the backcountry."

"Check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) for avalanche conditions, have your equipment of beacon, shovel, probe and make a plan for communications with your ski group," they added.