Avalanche danger still at ‘considerable” rating; don’t let your guard down
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite a few days of sunny weather across the high country, forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center warn that the backcountry avalanche danger hasn’t eased much — in fact, strong winds have redeposited some of the fresh snow into avalanche starting zones as thick slabs that are still sitting atop a base of weak layers.
Careful route-finding and the ability to evaluate snowpack stability are prerequisites for safe travel in the backcountry these days. The steady winds with speeds ranging up to 40 mph can deposit slabs several feet thick in just a few hours. One recent avalanche ran in the Vail backcountry in a path that has already slid several times this winter.
The most dangerous new windslabs are on northwest through southeast aspects, where the brittle slabs have built up farther down the starting zones than normal due to the strong and swirling winds, which have also cross-loaded terrain features like gullies and even in open areas below treeline.
Some of the fresh slabs could step down into older layers resulting in large slides the CAIC forecasters said, warning that jumping off cliffs into snow pillows can trigger the reactive snowpack.
Saturday’s blasting activities along highways and at ski areas resulted in several large avalanches that ran to the ground, the forecasters said, recommending conservative decision making for backcountry travelers.
Filed under: avalanches, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather Tagged: | backcountry avalanches, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, colorado avalanches, Colorado weather, snow, snowpack