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Skier, 4 snowboarders killed in avalanche ID'd

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Denver: Authorities have released the names of four Colorado snowboarders and one skier killed over the weekend in the state's deadliest avalanche in more than 50 years.

Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger said search and rescue crews recovered the men's bodies from a backcountry area on Loveland Pass several hours after Saturday afternoon's slide, which was estimated to be about 600 feet (180 meters) wide and eight feet (2.4 meters) deep. All of the men were equipped with avalanche beacons.

The sheriff identified the victims Sunday as Christopher Peters, 32, of Lakewood; Joseph Timlin, 32, of Gypsum; Ryan Novack, 33, of Boulder; Ian Lanphere, 36, of Crested Butte; and Rick Gaukel, 33, of Estes Park.

Another snowboarder, identified by friends as Jerome Boulay, was buried and survived, but authorities have not released his condition.

The Denver Post reported yesterday that the group of men, all experienced in extreme terrain, were participating in a snowboarding event called the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash to raise money for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center when the slide occurred.

Snowboarder Mike Bennett of Dillon told the newspaper he dug through hard-packed snow to help free Boulay before finding two others buried about two feet (60 centimeters) below the surface.

"They were wrapped around each other, below a patch of trees," he said.

Bennett said four of the victims were snowboarders and one was a skier.

Meanwhile, Adam Schmidt, editor in chief of Snowboard Colorado Magazine, told The Associated Press that the event organized by Timlin, "ironically," was aimed at promoting backcountry safety.

"Joe is really about the snowboarding community in Colorado," said Schmidt, whose magazine was an event sponsor.

"He really stressed making this event about backcountry safety. ... Unfortunately, if Mother Nature decides to throw something at you, you can never be too prepared."

The slide occurred on a spring weekend when many skiers and snowboarders took advantage of late season snowfall in the Rocky Mountains. Loveland Pass, which rises to an elevation of 11,990 feet (3,655 meters) about 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Denver, is popular among backcountry skiers and snowboarders, but dangerous conditions are common in the area even in the spring.

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