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Avalanche Triggered By Skier In Closed Terrain At Loveland Ski Area

GEORGETOWN, Colo. (CBS4)- The Alpine Rescue Team rushed to Loveland Ski Area on Friday afternoon after a skier triggered an avalanche. It is believed no one was caught or buried in the slide.

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According to Loveland Ski Area, the skier accessed closed terrain and triggered the avalanche about 2:30 p.m. The slide was reported by a guest about four minutes later.

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Mark Morris (credit: CBS)

"It appeared a couple skiers went in under the ropes and there was a fresh avalanche debris right at our feet," said Mark Morris, a skier who says he reported the slide to Loveland. "At that moment, you don't know if somebody is in it. Immediately a search party was formed through the ski patrol and local skiers."

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An avid skier and Loveland local, Morris keeps lifesaving avalanche gear with him on big snow days. He was able to help ski patrollers in the search. Crews from other ski areas came to help search along with volunteers from Alpine Rescue team and Summit County Search and Rescue.

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Ski patrol responded immediately with beacons, probes, avalanche dogs and Recco Rescue Equipment to search the debris field. Clear Creek County Search and Rescue was also dispatched along with additional search teams from neighboring ski area with avalanche dogs.

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"We had a crew of about 50 people up there probing for close to two hours I would say. I think we probed out the area pretty sufficiently," Morris said.

On Friday, Loveland received more than a foot of snow. The area where the slide occurred is called Avalanche Bowl. It was closed but it's believed the skier that triggered the slide went under a rope and into the off-limits terrain.

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"To the naked eye it looked like a good place to ski and that's probably why someone ducked the rope. But in fact it's a very unsafe place. Ducking ropes is a terrible idea anyway," said Morris.

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Friday, the Colorado Avalanche Information center issued an avalanche warning for other parts of the state. Loveland is in the Front Range Zone which was classified as "considerable risk" and the morning forecast stated, "As the snow adds up, human-triggered avalanches are becoming likely."

Loveland Ski Area said, "No missing persons or injuries have been reported."

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(credit: CBS)
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