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Bodies of 2 skiers recovered following San Juan County avalanche; victims ID’d

A team consisting of multiple agencies makes the difficult trek to the site of a backcountry...
A team consisting of multiple agencies makes the difficult trek to the site of a backcountry avalanche in San Juan County. Two men were killed when the avalanche happened Dec. 19, 2020; conditions were too dangerous to mount any kind of recovery effort until the following day.(San Juan County Search and Rescue)
Published: Dec. 20, 2020 at 11:23 AM MST
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SILVERTON, Colo. (KKTV) - Authorities have recovered the bodies of two skiers in the aftermath of a deadly avalanche in San Juan County.

The pair were reported overdue Saturday evening after failing to return from skiing in the backcountry near Ophir Pass. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), rescue crews set off in the dark and from a helicopter were able to see evidence of a large avalanche and ski tracks nearby.

“The two skiers were later found buried in the avalanche debris,” the CAIC said.

Conditions were too dangerous to mount a recovery effort Saturday night. San Juan County’s Sheriff’s Office, San Juan County Search and Rescue, La Plata County Search and Rescue, and Flight for Life Lifeguard 5 helicopter crew set off Sunday morning and after a four-hour trek were able to recover the bodies.

The deceased have been identified as Albert Perry, 55, and Dr. Jeff Paffendorf, 51. Both were from Durango.

“Avalanche danger in the backcountry is always unpredictable regardless of your avalanche knowledge and skills. It is critical to check the avalanche forecast and avalanche danger prior to venturing into the backcountry. Check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) for avalanche conditions, have your equipment of beacon, shovel, probe, and make a plan for communications with your ski group,” said the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management in a social media post Sunday.

Silverton Colo.: On Saturday December 19, two backcountry skiers were caught, buried, and killed in an avalanche in the...

Posted by Office of Emergency Management, San Juan County Colorado on Sunday, December 20, 2020

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