Backcountry skier killed in northern Colorado avalanche

A 29-year-old woman has died in an avalanche while skiing in the mountains of northern Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A 29-year-old woman has died in an avalanche while skiing in northern Colorado, where communities along the Rocky Mountains have seen record or near-record snowfall since September.

The unidentified woman from Fort Collins was buried in the powerful slide Sunday, authorities said. Other members of her ski party dug her from the snow, but found that she wasn't breathing, according to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

The woman, whose name was not immediately released, was declared dead at the scene.

The avalanche happened at Diamond Peak just north of Rocky Mountain National Park. A 2- to 3-foot (.6- to 9.-meter) sheet of snow, ice and rock plummeted 500 vertical feet (152 meters) over a wide area, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The center warned of considerable avalanche danger Monday for the Rocky Mountain Front Range, which includes the area where the skier died. The center urged people in the back country to use extreme caution after several rounds of early season snowfall.

Communities from Boulder north to Fort Collins broke or neared record snowfall levels for the three-month period between November and September, according to the National Weather Service. Boulder's 55.9 inches (142 cm) is more than any other large American city, according to the Denver Post.

Already, seven people have been caught in avalanches, and 185 total slides have been recorded, between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, according to the avalanche center.

At least seven people were killed by avalanches in Colorado last winter, during a season of heavy snow and strong wind. One avalanche swept vehicles off Interstate 70 near Vail.