Avalanche kills 2 skiers near Ophir Pass

  • The red circle on this topographic map shows where the avalanche occurred southeast of Ophir Pass. (Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center)
    The red circle on this topographic map shows where the avalanche occurred southeast of Ophir Pass. (Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center)
  • This photo was taken from a helicopter of the north side of The Battleship. The skiers were found near the right side of this image, which is the west side of the mountain. Photo courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
    This photo was taken from a helicopter of the north side of The Battleship. The skiers were found near the right side of this image, which is the west side of the mountain. Photo courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Body

Search and rescue crews are working this afternoon to recover the bodies of two backcountry skiers who were killed in an avalanche on Saturday near Ophir Pass.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office, San Juan County Search Rescue and a Flight for Life helicopter on Saturday initiated a search and rescue for two overdue skiers in the backcountry, according to a news release from San Juan County.

The bodies of skiers were found in avalanche debris, but due to avalanche danger, the weather and the time of day, the recovery mission for the bodies was scheduled for Sunday morning.

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the two skiers were reported missing Saturday evening after they planned to ski in an area north of Silverton locally known as the Battleship. Flying over the area in the dark, search and rescue members could see a large avalanche and ski tracks on the north side of the Battleship.

San Juan County officials are asking people to avoid the Ophir Pass turnoff parking area and all areas of U.S. Highway 550 around there to provide sheriff's deputies, search and rescue and the helicopter room to recover the bodies.

The news release indicated more information will be released when the recovery mission is finished. Multiple agencies are involved in the effort, including the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

CAIC lists the avalanche danger in the northwest San Juan Mountains as considerable.