New snow and wind combined to form tender soft slabs around the Summit County backcountry, as a pair of riders found out on the Professor, a popular sidecountry ski run and known avalanche path between Loveland Pass and Arapahoe Basin.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center warned of considerable avalanche danger on north to east to southwest aspects, with pockets of high danger on steep wind-loaded slopes facing northeast through southwest near and above treeline. Both triggered and natural slides are likely in these areas.
The CAIC reported natural soft slab avalanches reported from the northern Sawatch and Ten Mile ranges, with observers reporting a reactive snowpack with very clean breaks. The largest avalanche reported was triggered with explosives and was more than 2 feet deep, 450 feet wide and ran 1,000 feet down a southeast facing slope. There was also a human triggered avalanche in the East Vail area on a northeast facing slope at about 10,800 feet.
Most of the people who died in snow slides the past 10 years were wearing beacons and many of them had at least some training in avalanche safety procedures, according to Dale Atkins, who recently analyzed avalanche fatalities between 1999 and 2009 and compiled the results in a paper that paints a vivid statistical portrait of recent trends. Read a related story on the research here. More A-Basin photos after the break.
Filed under: Arapahoe Basin, avalanches, Ski Resorts, Snow and weather, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | A-Basin, avalanche accidents., avalanches, Loveland Pass, Summit County avalanches, Summit County snow, the professor