Two killed in Colorado avalanches but third man survives head being buried in snow

Two men were killed in separate avalanches in Colorado on Sunday.

One man was skiing alone in the Mount Trelease area, 57 miles west of Denver near Interstate 70, when the avalanche happened, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office said. Members of the Alpine Rescue Team found the man’s body about two hours later in the avalanche debris field near the popular backcountry skiing area, the office said.

His name wasn’t released pending notification of relatives.

Also on Sunday, a man was killed during an unrelated avalanche while snowmobiling, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said.

The agency and other authorities responded to a report of an avalanche in the Corona Pass area near the Town of Winter Park, from a caller who said his father was buried by the slide and was unconscious, according to a sheriff’s office statement.

Responders found the snowmobile had been carried onto a frozen lake and later located the rider in the snow, officials said. Rescuers performed lifesaving measures but the man was pronounced dead at the scene. He wasn’t immediately identified.

The Grand County Coroner’s Office is investigating his cause and manner of death.

The men are the ninth and 10th people to be killed by avalanches in Colorado this winter, and now 24 people have died in such accidents in the United States during the same period, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The average number of people killed in Colorado avalanches each season is six.

In Colorado, the snowpack is exceptionally weak this year and the avalanche danger is bad as it’s been since 2012, prompting a renewed warning from the center for backcountry users to be careful during the long Presidents Day weekend.

One day earlier, a snowboarder survived after being caught in an avalanche near East Vail even though his head was buried under about a foot-and-a-half of snow, according to the center.

The snowboarder was able to make an air pocket in front of his face and breathe in oxygen with a filtration device called an AvaLung, which also keeps carbon dioxide from accumulating near the face, the center said.

His partner was able to find and recover him within about 10 minutes using the signal from a transceiver, the center said.

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