LOVELAND PASS, the United States, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The deadliest avalanche in Colorado in 51 years has claimed the lives of four snowboarders and a skier in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, whose names were released by authorities Sunday.
The men's bodies were recovered two hours after Saturday's avalanche, which measured 1,000 yards (914 meters) long, 600 yards (548 meters) wide and 8 feet (2.4 meters) deep, according to Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger.
The slide occurred at about 11,000 feet (3,352 meters) near Loveland Pass, 60 miles (96.5 km) west of Denver, and killed Ian Lanphere, 36, Rick Gaukel, 33, Chris Peters, 31, Joe Timlin, 32 and Ryan Novack, 33, the sheriff said. A sixth snowboarder survived the avalanche and alerted authorities.
The group of men were participating in a backcountry event called the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash to raise money for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) and were all experienced in backcountry terrain, the Denver Post reported Sunday.
The group may have triggered the avalanche from below "the start zone," as old snow collapsed and new snowfall cascaded down creating a chain reaction, according to the CAIC.
The mountains west of Denver have seen an unusually heavy amount of early spring snowfall, drawing many snowboarders and skiers to the region, and CAIC posted official warnings Sunday of dangerous backcountry conditions.
The five deaths raise the 2012-13 season total killed to 11.
Annual death toll has increased steadily since 1990, as extreme, backcountry skiing has became more popular, according to CAIC data, and Saturday's avalanche was the deadliest in Colorado since 1962, when seven people were killed near Twin Lakes.