An avalanche in Oregon's Wallowa Mountains yesterday killed two skiers and seriously injured two others, officials say. A group of eight people was skiing in the south part of the mountain range near Cornucopia when the avalanche hit; the other four were unhurt, the Oregonian reports. Oregon and Washington have seen heavy snowfall over the past week, and experts say the snow has been dense—and has fallen onto lighter snow, making it more likely to slide. Avalanche warnings are in effect for parts of the Washington Cascades and the Mount Hood area.
The group was on the third day of a guided backcountry outing meant to last five days, and was comprised of two guides and six skiers, the AP reports. The owner of the company that organized the trip says they were all "fit, proficient downhill skiers" and that the avalanche "caught them by surprise" from above. The two injured skiers—one with two broken legs, another with a broken thigh bone—are still on the mountain, with medics, until conditions clear so rescue efforts can resume. So far this season, 12 people have died in avalanches, six of those since Sunday.