DURANGO, Colo. (AP/KDVR) — Two backcountry skiers died after being caught in an avalanche in southwestern Colorado on Saturday, officials said.

The skiers had been reported overdue from a trip near Vallecito Reservoir, about 24 miles (39 kilometers) northeast of Durango. Just before midnight, a helicopter found an avalanche with tracks leading into it but not out of it, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said. The two skiers were later found buried in about 4 feet (1.2 meters) of avalanche debris, the center said in its preliminary report.

Levels of avalanche danger

These two deaths bring the number of people killed in avalanches this season to six. According to the avalanche center, seven people died last year.

“Most avalanches are released by weather events, and they happen during these big storms that come through the Colorado mountains,” Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, told FOX31’s Samantha Spitz on Saturday.

Data from the CAIC showed some areas were in level 4 – high danger earlier this week. 

For the weekend, most mountain ranges are back to level 3 – considerable and level 2 – moderate, but Greene said those levels can be the most dangerous. 

“Most of the fatal accidents in Colorado happen in those mid-levels of the danger scale, moderate or considerable,” Greene said. “The most dangerous for us are triggered from people doing backcountry recreation.” 

With more snow moving into the state this week, the level of danger for avalanches could change in some areas again.