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Colorado avalanche kills skier, snowboarders

DENVER — Four Colorado snowboarders and one skier were killed over the weekend in the state’s deadliest avalanche in more than 50 years.

Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger said search and rescue crews recovered the men’s bodies from a backcountry area on Loveland Pass several hours after Saturday afternoon’s slide, which was estimated to be 600 feet wide and eight feet deep. All of the men were equipped with avalanche beacons.

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The sheriff identified the victims Sunday as Christopher Peters, 32, of Lakewood; Joseph Timlin, 32, of Gypsum; Ryan Novack, 33, of Boulder; Ian Lanphere, 36, of Crested Butte; and Rick Gaukel, 33, of Estes Park.

Another snowboarder, identified by friends as Jerome Boulay, was buried and survived, but authorities have not released his condition.

The men, all experienced in extreme terrain, were participating in a snowboarding event called the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash to raise money for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center when the slide occurred.

Snowboarder Mike Bennett of Dillon told the newspaper he dug through hard-packed snow to help free Boulay before finding two others buried about 2 feet below the surface. ‘‘They were wrapped around each other, below a patch of trees,’’ he said.

The slide occurred on a weekend when many skiers and snowboarders took advantage of late-season snowfall in the Rocky Mountains.

Loveland Pass, which rises to an elevation of 11,990 feet about 60 miles west of Denver, is popular among backcountry skiers and snowboarders, but dangerous conditions are common even in spring.

On Thursday, a 38-year-old snowboarder died in an avalanche south of Vail Pass.

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