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At least 3 killed in avalanches in southern Colorado as officials warn of renewed risk

The remains of a missing snowmobiler were found Monday after a series of avalanches Saturday killed at least two others, the state avalanche center said.
The aftermath of an avalanche at La Manga Pass, Colo., in an image local officials shared Monday. 
The aftermath of an avalanche at La Manga Pass, Colo., in an image local officials shared Monday. Colorado Avalanche Information Center

At least three people were killed in recent avalanches in southern Colorado, officials said Monday as they announced that the body of a missing snowmobiler had been found earlier in the day.

The snowmobiler, who had yet to be identified, was found Monday after having been "buried and killed in an avalanche" over the weekend near Wolf Creek Pass, a high mountain pass in Mineral County, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said on Facebook.

The snowmobiler was one of three people to have died because of avalanches "triggered by people recreating" Saturday, the avalanche center said.

Two backcountry skiers were also "caught, buried and killed" in a separate avalanche near the Vallecito Reservoir, about 80 miles west of Wolf Creek Pass, officials said Sunday. They also had yet to be identified.

At the time, officials had said a search and rescue effort was underway for the then-missing snowmobiler.

The danger level for the risk of avalanches had been "high" earlier last week, but it had decreased to "considerable" by Saturday, the avalanche center said.

Yet, the center said it recorded six avalanches that day, "three triggered by people," resulting in the deaths of the snowmobiler and two skiers.

On Sunday, a snowmobile-triggered avalanche in the La Plata Mountains also "fully buried" a rider, it said. But "thankfully a skilled companion rescue response successfully recovered their partner," it said.

The center warned Monday that the avalanche danger level was expected to rise Tuesday and become "more widespread," encompassing most mountains by Wednesday and Thursday.

"Please read the forecast, including the summary where we describe the most dangerous slopes and travel advice," it said. "Remember, Moderate avalanche danger does not mean safe."

La Plata County Search and Rescue warned on Facebook that avalanche incidents in the area were "ticking up." According to the avalanche center, Monday's discovery of the snowmobiler marked the seventh avalanche death in Colorado for the 2022-23 season.