TODAY   |  April 21, 2013

5 snowboarders killed in Colorado avalanche

Colorado’s deadliest avalanche in more than 50 years took the lives of five snowboarders on Saturday, even though they were well-equipped. “Just because you have all the rescue equipment, that doesn’t prevent the avalanche,” said rescue worker Dale Atkins. NBC’s Leanne Gregg reports.

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>>> are dead in colorado after they were caught in an avalanche in the back country. leanne gregg is on the scene. she has more for us. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, lester. the snowboarders used a trail not far from here to get to the mountain. then while hiking up the mountain, not while snowboarding, officials say they triggered the deadly slide. heavy spring snow nearly two feet in the last ten days creating conditions so bad, forecasters call it the worst avalanche danger in decades.

>> it's nasty back there.

>> reporter: this is the path of an avalanche on loveland pass that on saturday swept up six snowboarders. one survived uninjured but partially buried who freed himself and called for help. rescuers, too late for the other five. even though they'd been well prepared for back country conditions.

>> just because you have all the rescue equipment, it doesn't prevent the avalanches.

>> reporter: on thursday, not far from loveland parks another snowboarder died in an avalanche. experts say nationwide, 24 people have been killed in avalanches this season. 11 in colorado. and the threat is not over.

>> the newer snow that's on top is very unstable. so once it starts to go, it's going to go.

>> reporter: a call for caution during these extreme times in the high country . names and ages of saturday's victims have not been released. they were snowboarding outside ski resort boundaries on u.s. forest service land, open to skiers, snowboarders and hikers at their own risk. lester?

>> leanne gregg this morning, thanks.