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US avalanche deaths rise in 2020-21 season to 36; one death recorded in N.H.

In this Sunday, May 3, 2015 photo, Silas Miller, 28, of Conway, N.H. sails more than 50 feet off an ice-covered cliff on the Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The steep slopes are considered the birthplace of extreme skiing. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)Robert F. Bukaty

The number of people killed in avalanches during the 2020-21 ski season rose by 13 to 36— including a Vermont backcountry skier who was killed in New Hampshire in February — according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

In the 2019-20 ski season, which ranged from Dec. 8 to April 28, 23 people were killed in avalanches, the Center reported. Through April 14 of this year, 36 deaths have been reported — including the 54-year-old backcountry skier who triggered the avalanche that killed him in the White Mountains.

Of the 36 people killed, 17 were skiers, five were snowboarders, eight were snowmobilers, five were snowshoers/climbers/hikers, and one fell into the “other” designation, according to the Center. Nine of the deaths came in Colorado, while five came in Wyoming.


In the 2019-20 season, eight skiers, three snowboarders, 10 snowmobilers, and two snowshoers/climbers/hikers were killed, the center said.

Ian Forgays, 54, an experienced backcountry skier, was found dead on Feb. 3 buried under 13 feet of snow in New Hampshire’s Ammonoosuc Ravine after a two-day search. His death sparked a warning from the Mount Washington Avalanche Center about the dangers of mid-winter skiing. Forgays, officials said, sparked the small avalanche that killed him after he hit a “wind slab,” a flat area where snow had piled up. The pocket of snow then carried Forgays into a “bowl-like depression,” the Avalanche Center said.

None of the other reported 2020-21 avalanche deaths came in New England.

Charlie McKenna can be reached at charlie.mckenna@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @charliemckenna9.