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Entries in Missing Skiers (2)

Friday
Mar092012

Skiers Found Dead in Wyoming After Avalanche

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOOSE, Wyo.) -- The desperate search for two experienced backcountry skiers lost in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park has come to an end.

On Thursday, friends Steve Romeo and Chris Onufer were found dead after being swept thousands of feet downhill in an avalanche that started near the 11,355-foot summit of Ranger Peak.  The pair had been missing since Wednesday.

Onufer's friend Michelle Smith told ABC News skiing was a huge part of his life.

“He’d want to go out there every day rain or shine.  He was super inspirational.  He had so much energy for the mountain and he fed that energy to everyone around him,” she said.

Romeo and Onufer are now the 26th and 27th victims to be killed by avalanches so far this season.  For perspective, on average 25 people are killed in U.S. avalanches every year, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

John Snook, an avalanche forecaster at the center, explains why this year has been especially dangerous for backcountry skiers.

“We had a very dry start to the season, so the early season snow -- which was very shallow -- turned into a very weak foundation.  Now, we’re putting new snow on top of that.  We’re putting a very heavy load on top of a very weak foundation which is creating very unstable conditions,” Snook said.  “So this year we are seeing more fatalities as a result.”

And it’s not just novice skiers that are dying.  A few weeks ago, five expert level skiers were caught in an avalanche near Stevens Pass, Wash.  Three were buried and killed.

“Even experienced skiers, if they don’t pay attention to what’s going on and stay focused to the unstable conditions, they can get themselves in trouble as well,” Snook says.´╗┐

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Weather Hampers Search for Four Missing Skiers

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock (file)(ASPEN, Colo.) -- Mountain rescue teams are battling poor weather conditions as they resume the search for four skiers overdue from a trip into the backcountry near Aspen, Colo.

"Right now it's snowing a lot, so there are no tracks to follow," said Pitkin County Sheriff's deputy Adam Crider.

The weather is also making it impossible for helicopters to search from the air.

The four skiers were scheduled to stay at a remote mountain cabin called the Goodwin Green Hut roughly 11 miles south of Aspen beginning on Saturday March 26. They booked the cabin for the nights of March 26, 27 and 28, but had apparently told friends they would leave the backcountry on March 28. When heavy snowfall hit the area, friends assumed the skiers would simply stay at the cabin Monday night and return Tuesday.

When they failed to return, a search was launched by the Pitkin County Sheriff's office and members of Mountain Rescue Aspen. Sheriff's deputies located the skiers' car at a parking area Monday night and left a note asking them to call police once they reached cell phone range.

Search teams on snowmobiles reached the Goodwin Green Hut on Tuesday and said the four were not there. Officials are confident the skiers had been at the hut at some point over the last few days. Crider said that per backcountry protocol, the skiers printed out their reservation receipt and hung it on the wall of the cabin when they arrived. Where they are now, however, is a mystery.

Crider said the missing skiers are experienced and have made this trip before.

Officials have not released their names.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







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