6 injured in avalanche near Smugglers' Notch

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CAMBRIDGE, Vt. (WCAX) Six U.S. Army soldiers were swept down a mountain in an avalanche in northern Vermont. It happened at Easy Gully around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

"During the avalanche, they slid about 300 meters down the side," said Officer Nate Rivard, with the Vermont National Guard.

Officials say it took about 10 minutes to locate the soldiers who were swept down the mountain, and about two hours to get them safely into the ambulance.

Five of the soldiers suffered injuries that were not life-threatening and were taken to a nearby hospital.

About two hours later, dozens of soldiers participating in the same training, emerged from the woods.

"I'm sure the training that they receive here mitigated some of the injuries that they could have sustained if they were not trained on how to act during an avalanche," Rivard said.

"The slide occurred between a very tight space where there is a lot of snow. In this case, the snow is wind loaded and conditions tend to vary tremendously in the notch," said Mike Chait of Smugglers' Notch.

Chait says the steep chute is not part of Smugglers' Notch Ski Resort.

An avalanche occurred there earlier this week. Two skiers say they narrowly escaped getting buried by snow.

"The slopes that are 30 to 45 degrees are typically the most prone for the avalanches to develop and with these conditions we've had," said Matthew Clay, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "It's rare but possible."

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service say because of the recent storms, Vermont and New York mountains are prone to avalanches. They tell us several small ones have already occurred. They suggest that if you plan to spend some time in the mountains, avoid steep, snow-covered terrain.