Colorado: CAIC Benefit Bash a key fundraiser for backcountry avalanche forecasting and education

Get your CAIC grrove on at the annual Benefit Bash, Nov. 10 at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.

Grassroots support critical for state avy programs

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Friends of the CAIC sure knows how to time their events, with this year’s CAIC Benefit Bash scheduled to be held Saturday evening, just as the season’s first significant winter storm is forecast to drop the first good batch of powder on the Colorado high country.

This year’s Benefit Bash will once again be held at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center and features live music, tasty food, beer from New Belgium Brewery, and great people all enjoying the massive silent auction and a seemingly endless stream of door prizes.

The goodies include a Monarch season pass, snowcat skiing trips, all sorts of backcountry gear and even a spot on an Alaska heli guide school trip.

The bash has grown to be one of the most important grassroots fundraisers for the CAIC, which relies in part on donations to maintain a robust backcountry forecasting and avalanche awareness program. Last year the event raised about $72,000 and organizer Joe Vandal said the goal this year is $90,000. Continue reading

New snow leads to close call on the Professor

A pair of tracks leads out of a snow slide on the Professor, a popular backcountry ski run and known avalanche path at Loveland Pass, Colorado. A-Basin ski patrollers said the slide was triggered by skiers. It ran about 900 feet long. Click on the image for a larger view.

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.  Continue reading

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