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Steve Romeo, Chris Onufer Dead: Skiers Perish In Grand Teton National Park Avalanche

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By Ruffin Prevost

CODY, Wyo., March 8 (Reuters) - The bodies of two well-known local skiers who died in a back country avalanche in the mountains of Grand Teton National park have been recovered by a search and rescue team, a park spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The remains of Steve Romeo and Chris Onufer were found one day after the pair failed to return as expected from a trip to Ranger Peak in the northern Teton Range, park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.

Both men were expert back country skiers who lived in Jackson, Wyoming, and were well-known in the Jackson area.

Romeo ran a website, TetonAT.com, devoted to back country skiing and Ski Mountaineering in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.

A search was begun for the two men at dawn on Thursday after their vehicle was found on Wednesday night in a trailhead parking lot in Grand Teton National Park.

Several hours later a search and rescue helicopter located a large avalanche debris field on the slope of Ranger Peak and picked up signals from two avalanche beacons.

Back country skiers often wear the transmitters to aid in their location and rescue in the event of an avalanche.

Avalanche danger in the region was listed as moderate on Wednesday afternoon, and low on Thursday morning, according to the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center.

The rescue comes one day after U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar presented seven Grand Teton National Park rangers with the Department of the Interior Valor Award for their actions during July 2010 search and rescue efforts to aid 17 climbers caught in a powerful lightning storm on the Grand Teton.

A Teton County Search and Rescue volunteer was killed last month in a helicopter crash that also killed a snowmobiler who rescuers were assisting. The circumstances of that crash are under investigation. (Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)

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