Snowmobilers in Colorado, Wyoming latest avalanche victims

DENVER (AP) — The latest victims of a deadly avalanche season in the Rocky Mountain region include a snowmobiler who was buried by a slide in northern Colorado and another snowmobiler who died in an avalanche in western Wyoming.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says rescuers recovered the body of a man on Wednesday, a day after he was buried at high altitude while snowmobiling near Ruby Mountain in Jackson County. The man and another snowmobiler were trapped in an avalanche that measured three quarters of a mile (1 kilometer) wide and dropped 400 vertical feet (120 meters).

The victim’s identity wasn’t immediately released.

His companion was partially buried but was uninjured, the center said in a preliminary report. The accident happened southeast of the town of Rand, near treeline at about 11,400 feet (3,420 meters) altitude.

In Wyoming, the Jackson Hole News&Guide reports that a 56-year-old Michigan man died after an avalanche swept eight snowmobilers downslope Wednesday in Bridger-Teton National Forest near the town of Alpine, close to the Idaho border. Greg Stanczak, who was visiting the area with family, was buried in avalanche debris, Lincoln County Coroner Dain Schwab said.

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center had warned of “large to very large” avalanches in ranges south of the Teton Mountains, where the avalanche occurred.

At least 27 people have been killed in avalanche s in the United States so far this year, up from 23 who died last winter. Avalanche forecasters throughout the Rocky Mountain region say backcountry users are facing the most hazardous conditions in a decade. Successive waves of new snow have added weight and stress on a weak, granular base layer of snow that is extremely susceptible to breaking apart.

In Utah, the state Avalanche Center has warned anyone in the mountains to avoid being near or under any steep slope because of extreme avalanche danger. A mountain highway east of Salt Lake City used to get to the popular Snowbird and Alta ski resorts was expected to reopen Thursday after it was closed Tuesday following a large snowstorm that heightened already dangerous avalanche conditions.

Categories: Wyoming News