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5 Snowboarders Killed In Backcountry Loveland Pass Avalanche

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5 KILLED IN AVALANCHE
A snow plow clears the road way on Loveland Pass as a blast of wintry weather in the north and central mountains of Colorado dump more than six inches of new snow in some areas, Monday Oct. 17, 2011. Chains were required for commercial vehicles on US 6 Lo DESCRA snow plow clears the road way on Loveland Pass as a blast of wintry weather in the north and central mountains of Colorado dump more than six inches of new snow in some areas, Monday Oct. 17, 2011. Chains were required for commercial veh | Getty Images

GEORGETOWN, Colo. -- Five snowboarders were killed Saturday afternoon in a backcountry avalanche on Colorado's Loveland Pass, authorities said.

Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger said in a statement that six snowboarders were caught in the slide. The condition of the lone survivor was not released.

The Colorado Department of Transportation closed a highway as many skiers were headed home from nearby Arapahoe Basin ski resort.

Lisa Clarke Devore, who was headed back to Denver from the resort, told The Associated Press she saw a fire truck and ambulance on the pass, as well two search dogs headed into the area of the slide. She says she saw several ambulances, including one towing snowmobiles, headed toward the pass.

The pass, elevation of 11,990 feet, is popular among backcountry skiers and snowboarders.

On Thursday, a 38-year-old snowboarder died in an avalanche south of Vail Pass. Eagle County sheriff's officials said the man and another snowboarder likely triggered the slide after a friend on a snowmobile dropped them off at the top of Avalanche Bowl.

Nationwide, more than 18 people have died in avalanches this season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

U.S. avalanche deaths climbed steeply around 1990 to an average of around 24 a year as new gear became available for backcountry travel. Until then, avalanches rarely claimed more than a handful of lives each season in records going back to 1950.

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