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A-Basin’s Beacon Bowl coming up this weekend

A contestant in the 2012 Beacon Bowl at A-Basin zeroes in on a buried beacon.

A contestant in the 2012 Beacon Bowl at A-Basin zeroes in on a buried beacon.

In it’s 11th year, the popular A-Basin event morphs into a two-day rescue clinic; proceeds benefit the CAIC

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The two most recent avalanche deaths in Colorado show the continued need for avalanche education and rescue training in the state that historically tallies the majority of accidents each season.

Both deaths occurred in remote areas, where the skiers had to rely on their own rescue skills to try and recover buried victims. In those situations, speedy location, recovery and timely first-aid can make the difference between life and death.

One of the best ways to prepare for the almost unthinkable is to practice rescues in the field, simulating a real-life rescue scenario, and this weekend, Arapahoe Basin and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center offer a chance to do just that with the annual rescue clinic, which has morphed into a two-day event (Feb. 8-9) from the traditional Beacon Bowl. Continue reading

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Season starts for Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Daily forecasts posted online

Early season snow can quickly pile up and create avalanche risks in the Colorado mountains.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is up and running for the season, offering daily weather forecasts tailored to specific geographic mountain areas and general early season avalanche information. Zone-specific avalanche updates and warnings will start to flow as soon the snow starts piling up, at the latest by Thanksgiving, said CAIC director Ethan Greene. Continue reading

Colorado: Avalanche center switches to spring mode

Zone forecasts end, statewide forecasts issued three times per week

Debris from a March 30 wet snow avalanche that killed a skier near Ophir, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO AVALANCHE INFORMATION CENTER.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has switched to a spring forecasting mode, ending zone-specific updates in favor of a statewide forecast emphasizing overall spring avalanche awareness.

The CAIC will continue to issue weather forecasts twice a day, through April 30, with statewide avalanche statements Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, by 5 p.m. through the end of April and into May if conditions warrant.

CAIC director Ethan Greene said the change came a couple of weeks earlier than usual, prompted by a March snowpack meltdown that left many mountain areas nearly high and dry. Continue reading

Colorado: Avalanche warning in North San Juans

Avalanche warning in the north San Juans.

SUMMIT COUNTY — With anywhere from 5 to 9 inches of new snow piling atop a tender snowpack riddled with slabs, crusts and faceted crystals, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for the North San Juans.

Natural avalanches are likely Sunday night into Monday morning, and backcountry travelers will face hazardous conditions in many areas. Backcountry skiers Saturday triggered a slide remotely south of Telluride. According to the CAIC, the group was below treeline on low angle terrain, where they collapsed a small slope which propogated nearly 1,000 feet away to trigger a slide that was 400 feet wide and ran 400 vertical feet.

Snow was reported across Colorado Sunday afternoon.

Several other slides were reported from the San Juans. Check out the CAIC website for more details. Up to 16 inches of snow could fall in the San Juans before the storm tapers off Monday morning, and with strong southwest winds, big and dangerous slabs will build up on leeward slopes near and above treeline.

“Triggering a storm slab or wind slab will stress the underlying weak snowpack increasing the likelihood of a larger and destructive avalanche,” the CAIC forecasters wrote in the warning.

Snow started falling in the northwest mountains Sunday afternoon, where accumulations will not be as great as in the San Juans. The storm will start to move east Monday, with drying skies and continued mild temperatures before another round of snowfall kicks in for the northern mountains Tuesday night.

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. Continue reading

Colorado avalanche center starts daily bulletins

An unstable snowpack is developing on popular backcountry ski terrain like the Steep Gullies, between A-Basin and Keystone.

Current danger is rated moderate, with a chance of triggered slides

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center started daily zone forecasts and bulletins this week by warning of the dangers of a classic early season snowpack that, near treelike, is marked by stiff layers of windslab resting gingerly atop a weak base on non-cohesive faceted grains. Find your zone here.

For social media users, the CAIC is also posting updates on Twitter from the various zones around the state. The Twitter directory is online here.

“Signs of instability are plentiful. You should not ignore the shooting cracks and big whumps, and avoid traveling on or under steep terrain when you encounter them,” the CAIC experts said in their Nov. 23 update for the Vail and Summit zones, adding that slide activity has slowed since last weekend, but that there have still been recent reports of triggered avalanches. Continue reading

Colorado Avalanche Information Center starts forecasts

A set of tracks close to an avalanche debris pile at Loveland Pass show the potential danger of early season slides.

Series of early season storms could set up potentially dangerous avalanche conditions

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A pair of storms set to roll through the high country the next few days could spur the first avalanche warnings of the season.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center will begin daily forecasts today (Nov. 1.), with zone forecasts and avalanche bulletins set to begin around mid-November, or earlier if conditions warrant, according to CAIC director Ethan Greene.

The CAIC’s forecasting contract with the Colorado Department of Transportation begins Nov. 1; that enables the center to make the forecast product available to backcountry travelers via the CAIC website, Greene said. You can also follow the CAIC zone forecasts on Twitter. Continue reading

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