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Two snowbikers die in avalanche north of Vail; danger rises as storm hits mountains

Authorities said the bodies of the the two people killed in the slide -- 28-year-old Dillon Block and 30-year-old Cesar Almanza-Hernandez -- were recovered on Sunday

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A Colorado Avalanche Information Center photo of the fatal slide. (Handout)

Two people riding snowbikes were killed Saturday afternoon in an avalanche north of Vail.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Avalanche Information Center says a third person was also partially buried in the slide east of Red and White Mountain along Muddy Pass, but survived.

Authorities said the bodies of the the two people killed in the slide were recovered on Sunday. They were identified as Dillon Block, 28, and Cesar Almanza-Hernandez, 30, both of Gypsum.

Snowbikes are essentially dirt bikes for snow. They have a ski on the front and a motorized track, similar to a snowmobile’s, in the rear.

While similar in many ways to a snowmobile, snow bikes are smaller and more nimble.

The fatal avalanche carried its two victims into a drainage. The slide was about 650 feet wide and ran about 120 vertical feet.

Ethan Greene, who leads the CAIC, said while the avalanche wasn’t very large, it was in an especially deadly place given the drainage.

“The avalanche initiated in the old snow layers about 3 feet below the snow surface,” the CAIC said in a preliminary report on the avalanche. “It stepped down to a weak layer near the ground, about 5-feet deep.”

Read more outdoors stories from The Colorado Sun.

The deaths are the third and fourth avalanche fatalities in Colorado this year. The last fatal slide in the state happened in December.

The CAIC is warning of considerable to moderate avalanche danger in the backcountry surrounding Aspen, Vail, Gunnison and Steamboat Springs as a major winter storm smacks the mountains.

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