Backcountry skier dies in Colorado avalanche |

Backcountry skier dies in Colorado avalanche

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIDGWAY, Colo. – An avalanche in the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado killed a backcountry skier and injured another.

Two men in a group of seven people using the backcountry hut system were caught in the avalanche Thursday near Ridgway at about 11,500 feet, Ouray County sheriff’s investigator Joel Burk said Friday.

Kellen Robert Sams, 27, of Manitou Springs, tried to ride out the slide but struck a tree, sheriff’s officials said. Others in the group performed CPR on him, but he died at the scene of multiple traumatic injuries, authorities said.

The group uncovered Dominic Franz Muth, 24, of Breckenridge, from about two feet of snow, sheriff’s officials said. Burk said earlier that Muth was taken to a hospital with a dislocated hip.

The other skiers were from Colorado Springs, Buena Vista and Salida, Burk said.

One of them used a mobile phone to call for help, and rescuers used helicopters to reach them.

Storms in recent weeks have created a weak layer of snow underneath new snowfall from the most recent storm, said avalanche forecaster John Snook of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. There have been at least five avalanches triggered by people this week, he said.

Avalanche center staff headed to the scene Friday to get more information on the size of the fatal avalanche and what triggered it.

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