Colorado skier killed in avalanche, marking state's 1st such fatality of the season

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A backcountry skier died in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado Sunday, marking the state's first known avalanche fatality of the season, authorities said.

The skier was “caught, killed” while in an area known locally as Sam’s Trees in San Miguel County, Colorado, about 300 miles southwest of Aspen, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

It did not release the victim’s identity or provide details on what caused the incident.

The site, which sits at an elevation of about 11,200 feet, received as much as 20 inches of snow in a 24-hour period, according to San Miguel County Search and Rescue.

The department sent its condolences to the victim’s family in a Facebook post late Sunday, also warning people to be careful.

"Colorado experienced their first avalanche fatality of the 2018 season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center," the Facebook post said. “Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of the victim."

It said the danger rating in the area was at level three, on a scale of one to five, and told skiers to “remain vigilant while traveling in the backcountry.”

The state had issued a warning for the San Juan Mountains area on its website Sunday, saying human-triggered avalanches were likely to occur on steep slopes with 6 or more inches of new or drifted snow.

“An avalanche in the surface snow could step down to lower weak layers, triggering a larger and more dangerous avalanche,” the warning said. “You can trigger an avalanche today that is large enough to injure or kill you. “

Colorado Avalanche Information Center said it sent staff to review the scene and planned to release a detailed report later this week.

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