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Snowboarder killed in massive avalanche south of Vail Pass
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Snowboarder killed in massive avalanche south of Vail Pass

Sixth fatal slide in Colorado this season

The avalanche that killed a snowboarder Thursday also broke trees 3 to 5 inches in diameter. (Vail Mountain Rescue Group photo)
The avalanche that killed a snowboarder Thursday also broke trees 3 to 5 inches in diameter. (Vail Mountain Rescue Group photo)
Two snowboarders triggered an avalanche measuring 300 feet wide and 10 feet deep south of Vail Pass on Thursday that killed one of them.

It is the sixth avalanche death in Colorado this ski season. The victim's name has not been released.

The snowboarders were dropped off into an area known as Avalanche Bowl by a friend on a snowmobile, according to the Eagle County Sheriff's Office. One of them was able to escape the avalanche but the other rider became trapped, a sheriff's press release said. A preliminary report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said the rider was carried into a stand of trees.

The trio of friends had been in the 12,000-foot-high bowl taking turns shredding newly fallen snow all day, the press release said. Vail Public Safety Communications Center received a 911 call reporting the slide at about 1:30 p.m.

The Colorado Avalanche Center described it as a "persistent-slab avalanche" that was forceful enough to break trees 3 to 5 inches in diameter. It released on a north aspect in a near-treeline area.

The friends were able to locate the victim using avalanche beacons. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful, the press release said. Other touring groups in the area reportedly aided in the first response.

All three were experienced snowboarders and snowmobilers who are very familiar with the Avalanche Bowl area and they were all equipped with safety equipment, the press release said. The survivors, however, allegedly admitted to authorities that the three of them smoked marijuana — "Dead-Head OG" to be specific — around the time of the accident. Sheriff's detectives were alerted to their admission.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center plans to conduct a survey of the avalanche Friday.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office worked collaboratively with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, Summit County Mountain Rescue, Vail Mountain Rescue, and the Eagle County Coroner’s Office.
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