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Snowshoer, 2 dogs killed in avalanche in Marble area

CAIC said the man was snowshoeing with a group of friends when three of them and two dogs were caught in a small avalanche.

GUNNISON COUNTY, Colo. — Search teams on Saturday found the body of a 27-year-old man who was caught in a small avalanche Friday near the town of Marble, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office (PCSO).

The victim has been identified as Nathaniel Ethan Schmidt of Colorado Springs.

PCSO said it was notified about 4:47 p.m. Friday about a missing snowshoer who was last seen in the Marble area. Officials said the man went missing after a small avalanche.

Schmidt was snowshoeing to a cabin with three of his friends and two dogs when they triggered the avalanche along an unmaintained road. The avalanche pushed three people and both dogs into a gully, where the debris formed a deep pile, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

Two people were partially buried and able to dig themselves out. Schmidt and both dogs were completely buried and killed, CAIC said. 

Officials said the avalanche took place near Beaver Lake in the Yule Creek drainage of Gunnison County. PCSO assisted after receiving a request for mutual aid from the Gunnison County Sheriff's Office.

The avalanche was about 50 feet wide and ran 250 feet vertically, CAIC said.

CAIC, West Elk Mountain Rescue, Mountain Rescue Aspen, and the Gunnison County Sheriff's Office looked for the missing man throughout the night Friday but were unsuccessful in locating him.

Search efforts were limited due to the area's unstable condition and time of day. Crews stopped searching about 9:14 p.m. Friday but continued their search Saturday morning, according to CAIC and PCSO.

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