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3 backcountry skiers killed in 2 separate avalanches in Colorado

San Juan County skiers identified
Posted at 10:08 AM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 12:03:18-05

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Colo. — It was a deadly weekend in Colorado's backcountry after two separate avalanches left three dead on the Western Slope.

Two backcountry skiers reported overdue Saturday evening died after getting swept up in an avalanche northwest of Silverton. Their bodies were found buried in avalanche debris in an area locally known as the Battleship, southeast of Ophir Pass in San Juan County.

Helicopter crews located the bodies after spotting a large avalanche and ski tracks, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. San Juan County Search and Rescue and other agencies recovered the bodies Sunday.

The San Juan County Coroner identified them as Albert Perry, 55, and Dr. Jeff Paffendorf, 51, both from Durango.

On Friday, a skier was killed in an avalanche on the northeast end of the Anthracite Range, in an area locally referred to as Friendly Finish west of Crested Butte in Gunnison County. No identities were made in that incident.

In the last week, there have been 380 avalanches reported — 108 triggered by people, according to the CAIC. The agency is urging people headed to the mountains to exercise extra care in the mountains and pay special attention to the avalanche forecast.