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Two injured skiers rescued from Oregon avalanche

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  • Helicopters sent in to airlift injured skiers from slopes forced to turn back
  • Rescue group stayed on mountain with two injured skiers overnight to help with pain relief for broken limbs

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 17:24 EST, 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 17:28 EST, 12 February 2014

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Rescue efforts to reach a woman who broke both legs in an avalanche that killed two skiers in Oregon and seriously injured a third were delayed because of bad weather.

Two National Guard helicopters sent to the Wallowa Mountains on Wednesday morning had to be turned back because of poor visibility.

The experienced skiers had been on a back country tour when a deadly avalanche swept in at about noon on Tuesday.

Deadly: An avalanche that hit a group of skiers in the Wallowa Mountains killed two people, including one of the tour guides

Deadly: An avalanche that hit a group of skiers in the Wallowa Mountains killed two people, including one of the tour guides

Two members of a party of eight were seriously injured in the avalanche. One woman is believed to have broken both legs and damaged her shoulder and a male skier is thought to have broken a thigh bone.

A search and rescue team reached the injured skiers on foot and are slowly bringing them off the steep slope using ropes attached to rescue baskets.

None of the victims, who are mostly from Seattle, have been named yet, and at least three members of the group who avoided injury have already been removed from the mountain.

One of the two men killed in the avalanche was a guide with Wallowa Alpine Huts, based in Joseph, which had organized the tour, according to the Oregonian.

Two guides had been leading a five-day tour, when the avalanche hit. The surviving guide with the group was able to use a cellphone to raise the alarm.

Connelly Brown, the tour group owner, said the skiers were part of a back country skiing group and had been on the third day of their five-day tour.

Tour: A group of skiers is pictured on a trip across the mountains near where the avalanche took place

Tour: A group of skiers is pictured on a trip across the mountains near where the avalanche took place

Remote: Skiers on the back country tour were described as being experienced

Remote: Skiers on the back country tour were described as being experienced

Mr Brown said a guide contacted him by cellphone after the avalanche hit, reporting two possible fatalities and two skiers with broken legs. The skiers were on a guided five-day, four-night trip, he said.

On the day the avalanche hit they had planned to sleep at the Schneider Cabin, a historic miners' log cabin on the south side of Cornucopia Peak.

The uninjured members of the group stayed in the cabin overnight, while medical teams stayed with the injured skiers on the slope.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the bodies of the two men killed in the tragedy were still on the slope.

Mr Brown said the clients and the guides were all 'fit, proficient downhill skiers'. The guides were certified by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education and trained by the American Mountain Guide Association.

'From the description, it sounded like they were traveling and the avalanche came from above and caught them by surprise,' Mr Brown said.

The avalanche occurred in the southern part of the Wallowa Mountains, near the Idaho border.

A bulletin from the Wallowa Avalanche Center on Thursday warned that 'new snow is not bonding well to the old surface'.

The bulletin mentioned a recent report from the southern Wallowas of a skier triggering a small avalanche in which no one was caught.

Avalanches in other states were responsible for the deaths of two skiers in Colorado and two in Utah.

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