Colorado: Avalanche danger rises in the backcountry

Triggered avalanches are likely on many slopes in the Colorado backcountry.

Triggered slides likely on many slopes

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Snowfall and wind have combined to push the backcountry snowpack in Colorado to the tipping point, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, where forecasters issued an avalanche advisory valid through 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Across much of the state, the avalanche danger is rated as considerable, with natural avalanches possible and triggered avalanches likely on many steep slopes, including below treeline. Backcountry travelers will also see remotely triggered slides and experience signs of instability, including cracks and collapsing slabs. It will be possible to trigger avalanches from lower-angle slopes well below the starting zones.

Similar conditions prevailed in Montana last week, when fresh snow falling on to a rotten early season snowpack led to numerous avalanches and resulted in three backcountry deaths.

Specifically, the highest danger is from Vail Pass westward, where more snow fell. Several slides ran last week in the old snow in the East Vail backcountry, and new windslabs will up the chance for more avalanches with just a “small nudge” from backcountry travelers, according to the CAIC.

Windslabs will be common below open ridges facing northwest, north, northeast and east. Strong winds will continue above treeline Tuesday, adding to the buildup of slabs.

A conservative approach to terrain and route finding will be crucial for safe travel in avalanche terrain the next few days.





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