Colorado: CAIC reports first avalanche death of season

Sidecountry rider caught in slide in sidecountry near Snowmass Ski Area

Much of the Colorado backcountry is prone to dangerous avalanches.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is reporting that the first avalanche death of the season occurred Thursday, Jan. 18 in the sidecountry, near Snowmass.

The slide reportedly happened on Burnt Mountain, just to the east and outside the Snowmass Ski Area, where the terrain is generally northeast-facing. According to the first report posted on the CAIC website, the avalanche was described as a small slide that ran into a gully or terrain trap.

The CAIC is sending a team to investigate the avalanche site today (Jan. 19) and will post more details on the website as they become available.

The avalanche hazard in the area was rated as considerable after Monday’s storm brought anywhere from 9 to 16 inches of snow to the area, falling atop an unstable base of faceted grains and layers of crusts and slabs.

From the CAIC’s Jan. 18 avalanche conditions report for the Aspen area:

“Backcountry travelers will be able to trigger avalanches on many steep slopes today,  including slopes below treeline. Travelers may trigger these avalanches remotely, and in some cases, from a long distance away.”

Across the country, five avalanche deaths have been reported to-date; three in Montana, one in Utah and the latest fatality in Colorado.

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