BRECKENRIDGE - As snow continues to accumulate in Breckenridge, Hunter Mortensen is gearing up for another busy day on the slopes.
It's been a busy Colorado ski season, with about four weeks left for most resorts.
As a Breckenridge Ski Patrol Headquarters hunter, it is Mortensen's job to monitor Colorado's backcountry.
"[I want] to make sure they are safe, that the mountain is safe, and they have a good time," he said.
He heads out as always with his seven-year-old animal companion, Tali.
"She's a certified avalanche rescue dog," he said.
With a busy ski season comes a busy avalanche season. Tali is right by his side, four days a week, and knows it is showtime once Hunter puts on his skis.
"Skis on is game on for her," he added.
Barking with excitement, Mortensen and Tali make their way to her favorite ride: the chair lift.
"Dogs love riding chairlifts," he said. "It gives them a bird's eye view of the squirrels."
Tali is mostly the PR pup for avalanche and snow safety, but if there are people stuck in a backcountry slide, Tali and Mortensen are the first to the scene.
"We are also on call with the state rapid avalanche response team so we can go anywhere in the state," he said.
A dangerous avalanche season has meant Mortensen is receiving a lot of distress calls.
"All of our dogs have been deployed to avalanches this year," he said.
When the slopes get too steep, Tali hops onto Hunter's back for a lift. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
"Her little snout is right there and I can see her going crazy getting all the scents," Mortensen said.
For Mortensen, it's a small favor for a rescue dog who loves her job.
"It's a small thing we can do to give them a ride down every now and then," he said.
(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)