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Some Still Not Using Safety Gear After Avalanche Death

BERTHOUD PASS, Colo. (CBS4) - So far this season three people in Colorado have died in avalanches. The most recent fatality was a snowboarder on Berthoud Pass last week.

The body of 26-year-old Jeffrey Williams was found buried in that snow two days after he went missing. It's a popular backcountry area called "The Fingers." He was not wearing any avalanche safety gear and on Tuesday CBS4's Stan Bush found more people making the same mistake.

Ryan Brownsberger went in to the backcountry Tuesday morning without any safety gear.

"It's kind of expensive and I don't really need (any), I'm just going down the ravine," Brownsberger said.

He wasn't alone. In the hour Bush spent on Berthoud Pass he saw nearly a dozen snowboarders hiking without any avalanche safety gear at all.

"It's pretty ridiculous because it puts everyone in jeopardy," another snowboarder said.

The Fingers is one of the most popular areas in the state for backcountry skiing and boarding -- its slopes are steep and loaded with snow. Under the right conditions, they can be unpredictable.

Miller's friend Jill Stoffels was out on The Fingers on Tuesday.

"I was hoping that with his death that people would realize it's a bit more dangerous up here than they expected," Stoffels said. "It's frustrating."

Mike Everisp is mission coordinator for the Alpine Rescue Team. He said wearing the right gear at least gives avalanche victims a fighting chance.

"If you have the proper gear, you have a beacon, you're going to be found that much quicker," Everisp said.

Bush did see many others headed out fully prepared.

The Alpine Rescue Team says 2010 was their busiest year ever. They responded to 116 rescues.

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