Three skiers have been found dead after being hit by a large avalanche more than two miles above sea level when they accidentally triggered it while backcountry skiing.
The incident occurred on Feb. 1, 2021, between the towns of Silverton and Ophir in Colorado when a group of seven skiers was traveling near an area — locally known as The Nose — and, according to a report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), they accidentally triggered a large avalanche at an elevation of approximately 11,500 feet.
Four people were caught up in the avalanche when they were carried and then buried by the tumbling ice and snow.
According to CAIC, the group of skiers was able to recover one of their missing members after digging them out. That individual suffered only minor injuries. Three other skiers are dead, according to San Juan County officials.
The deceased skiers named Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer were located because they were wearing beacons, officials said. They were buried in more than 20 feet of avalanche debris.
The victims, according to San Juan County, have been recovered, but due to the rugged terrain and avalanche debris, a helicopter retrieval of the three skiers is now required.
After the bodies are moved, the skiers will be transferred to the San Juan County Coroner’s office for positive identification.
Authorities were initially contacted and search and rescue operations lasted into the night, said CAIC, and again continued on Feb. 2 before being suspended due to considerable avalanche danger as well as the safety of the search and rescue team.