Piper the border collie used as avalanche rescue dog at Crystal Mountain Resort

After a major storm blasted parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy snow, skiers and snowboarders were reminded of the need to be careful if they travel to avalanche-prone territory.

Earlier this month, three skiers were killed when they were buried in an avalanche at Silver Mountain Resort in Idaho; Two others were rescued.

The avalanche danger has ski patrols at local resorts working to mitigate the risk and keep skiers and snowboarders safe.

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At Crystal Mountain Resort, the ski patrol uses a 5-year-old border collie named Piper as an avalanche rescue dog.

Officials said Piper is a crucial tool in avalanche rescue and can track down a buried skier or snowboarder in a matter of minutes.

The ski patrol says it would take dozens of people in a probe line to get a strike on a buried skier in the time that it takes Piper.

According to the National Avalanche Center, 25-30 people die in avalanches each year and the most common causes of death are suffocation and hypothermia.

The ski patrol gave the following tips to skiers and snowboarders before they approach avalanche prone terrain: Ski with a partner, have phones charged, obey and read all signage and take an avalanche training course.

Click here for more information on avalanche danger from the Northwest Avalanche Center.