PORTLAND, Ore. — Officials in eastern Oregon say an avalanche in the Wallowa Mountains has killed two backcountry skiers and seriously injured two others.
The Baker County sheriff’s office says the avalanche hit at about noon Tuesday as a group of eight was skiing in the remote and mountainous area.
Most of the skiers are from the Seattle area.
The deaths raise the number of people killed in avalanches this season to 12, with six happening since Sunday. The danger of more slides remained high after prolonged snowfall measured in feet that has lured skiers and snowboarders to the mountains.
Earlier Tuesday, a skier missing after an avalanche outside a Colorado ski area was found dead, about a day after he was swept up in a large slide.
Kevin Kuybus, 46, lived in Highlands Ranch just south of Denver.
He and another person were caught in Monday’s avalanche just outside Keystone Ski Resort, but the other skier managed to pull himself out and go for help. Members of the Summit County Rescue Group searched for Kuybus on Monday and again Tuesday, when a slab of snow that didn’t release with the original avalanche was triggered with explosives to make the area safer for searchers.
Another avalanche near Kebler Pass, outside Crested Butte, killed a snowmobiler on Monday, said Gunnison County coroner Frank Vader. Another person also was trapped in that slide but survived.
The death toll includes two people who died in slides in Utah over the weekend. On Sunday, Ashleigh Cox, 21, of Colorado Springs died after being caught in an avalanche while she was snowshoeing Saturday in American Fork Canyon. About 90 miles away in Sanpete County, Clint Conover, 36, died after being buried in a slide Sunday while snowmobiling.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is warning against travel in parts of the backcountry after 2 to 4 feet of snow fell over the last several days. It’s putting pressure on the plentiful snow that was already on the ground and ensuring that any slides that do occur are very large, said Spencer Logan of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
“It definitely keeps us on the edge,” he said.
According to the center, the avalanches purposefully triggered by road crews to prevent surprise slides have been the largest in 20 years.