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Boulder, CO, Nov. 30, 2001-- The first avalanche death in the lower-48 was reported Wednesday. A man backcountry skiing in the Yankee Doodle Basin near Eldora Ski Area in Nederland, Colorado triggered the slide that carried him into Yankee Doodle Lake were he later drowned. Joe Despres, the deceased, was accompanied by his friend Peter Vaughn, who alerted Eldora's ski patrol of the avalanche after he was able to free himself from the slide. Vaughn had skied first and was watching Despres when the 900 foot wide and 600 foot long slab broke loose. They had skied the same slope twice in the previous two days.

A 30-year-old female snowshoer died in an avalanche in Alaska earlier this month. On that same day, Tuckerman's Ravine on Mount Washington, New Hampshire saw the first human triggered slide in Continental U.S. The New Hampshire victims were digging a pit when the slide hit. The Alaskan victim was snowshoeing across a 38-degree slope without beacons. Avalanche experts say that having the right knowledge and then using it wisely is the best way to avoid avalanches.

The Denver Post is also reporting another slide yesterday morning on Loveland Pass in Colorado that sent a 24-year-old man to a Denver hospital.

The snow is unstable in the Central Rockies after a week of near continuous snowfall. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center avalanchee danger is Moderate to Considerable and likely increasing. Furthermore they also say that "in addition to avalanches, they continue to get reports from all mountain areas that, on lower-angle slopes there is widespread collapsing of the snowpack."

For more information about avalanches go to www.avalanchee.org or www.tuckerman.org.

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