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Authorities identify Colorado avalanche victims

By Melissa Gray, CNN

(CNN) — The five snowboarders who died in a Colorado avalanche this weekend were all in their 30s and from Colorado, the sheriff’s office said Sunday.

They were found dead Saturday after being buried in snow on a high mountain pass in Colorado’s White River National Forest, officials from the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office said.

It was the state’s deadliest avalanche accident since 1962, the Colorado Alpine Rescue Team said.

A sixth member of the backcountry snowboarder group survived by digging himself out of the snow. He hiked a few hundred yards to a road and flagged down workers with the Colorado Department of Transportation, Sheriff Don Kruger said.

Killed in the avalanche were Christopher Peters, 32, from Lakewood; Joseph Timlin, 32, from Gypsum; Ryan Novack, 33, from Boulder; Ian Lanphere, 36, from Crested Butte; and Rick Gaukel, 33, from Estes Park.

The avalanche happened at Loveland Pass, about 50 miles west of Denver at an elevation of 11,990 feet, officials said. It is just east of the popular ski resorts of Breckenridge and Vail.

The group set off in the morning and triggered the avalanche around 1 p.m. (3 p.m. ET), the sheriff’s office said. All of them were wearing avalanche beacons and proper equipment, they said.

CNN’s Pierre Meilhan and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.