Colorado: A little powder in the backcountry

Not a whole lot of snow in the Colorado high country, but enough for large slides like this one that partially buried a skier near Berthoud Pass. PHOTO COURTESY CAIC. Click on the image for more photos and the full report, including a video presentation.

Avalanche danger holding steady; isolated large slides still possible

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After a quick spike in the backcountry avalanche danger late in the weekend, the new snow in most areas has settled and bonded reasonably well to the old surface, thanks in part to a warm start to the storm and relatively calm winds.

Overall, the avalanche danger is rated as moderate for all aspects near and above treeline. Natural avalanches are unlikely, while triggered avalanches are possible. Large avalanches are possible in isolated areas. Below treeline, the danger is rated as low with a slight chance of triggered slides in isolated spots.

Near Loveland Pass Sunday, the new snow was bonding very well with a sun crust on southerly aspects, making for some fine powder skiing. The biggest danger, as pointed out by the Colorado Avalanche Information Information Center, is hitting obstacles.

Backcountry skiing Loveland Pass, Colorado

On other aspects, it might still be possible to trigger smallish slides in soft-snow slabs that developed during the weekend storm. In other areas, there are still some tender hard slabs sitting atop unstable layers of faceted grains. In many cases, the slabs are solid, but reactive at sensitive trigger points, for example near rock outcrops and on slopes 35 degrees or steeper facing north through east through south, near and above treeline.

The most recently reported avalanche incident listed at the CAIC website was Jan. 1 on the Second Creek Headwall near Berthoud Pass. The triggered slide carried a skier several hundred feet down the slope, where he was partially buried and injured. Watch the CAIC’s video report on the accident below.


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