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1 Dead, 2 Injured In Avalanche On Mt. Meeker At Rocky Mountain National Park Sunday

(CBS4) -- Search and rescue crews found the body of a missing climber after a late-season rock fall and avalanche inside Rocky Mountain National Park Sunday. It happened near the Dreamweaver couloir on Mt. Meeker.

RELATED: 1 Man Missing, 1 Female And Male Injured In Rocky Mountain National Park Avalanche Aftermath

Avalanche scene picture (Rocky Mountain National Park)
(credit: Rocky Mt National Park)

In a news release, park officials said a woman also sustained minor injuries, and another man was seriously hurt to the point that it was necessary for a Colorado National Guard helicopter to be called in to get him out.

Despite June being days away, rescue teams worked in terrain above 11,500 feet and experienced winter-like weather conditions, officials said. Another expert told CBS4 dangerous avalanche conditions aren't uncommon this time of year.

"We've seen a lot of fresh snow in May this year, and that means we're kind of moving back and forth between spring and winter avalanche conditions," said Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

This rescue comes after a season with more than 5,000 reported avalanches and around 100 people caught and carried, Greene said. This spring, they're seeing winter-like avalanche risk more frequent than usual, as late season snow freezes overnight and heats up during the day.

"The most dangerous conditions are probably going to be upper elevation where we still have some old, hard snow, and then, we're getting this new snow on top of it," Greene said. "We have seen some accidents with cornice fall over the last few weeks, those are overhanging snow formations in really wind-exposed high elevation areas."
At lower elevations, wet snow is another hazard to be aware of.

"If that snow is soft enough that you're sinking into it, say over the top of your boots, you want to avoid steep slopes… anything over 30 degrees," he said.

Greene says while summer is around the corner, it's important to remember avalanche season isn't over, so check the weather and avalanche conditions before any adventure.

If you do go where avalanche risk is still somewhat high, the gear you have is also important. That should include a beacon, probe and shovel.

"It's a great time to be out in the high peaks, but you need to be prepared for whatever conditions you're going to find."

You can stay up to date on CAIC's conditions around the state by visiting the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website.


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