As the ski industry has essentially shut down for the season, more and more people are heading out into the backcountry. Videos of full parking lots and lines of people ignoring social distancing advise and skinning up are circulating. The risk of contracting coronavirus should not be the only concern though, avalanches are of course still an issue. A report below from the CAIC reminds us to still be careful out there…
Our list of rider-triggered slides and close calls in the North and South San Juans in the last three days has grown to seven. Eight people were caught, four were carried, and two were partially or fully buried. The theme is the same throughout. All were on slopes 35 degrees or steeper on northwest through northeast-facing slopes. Many of them involved the second or third rider on the slope that found the sweet-spot. They were near and below treeline where a layer of small faceted grains formed during the dry spell at the end of February and is now buried two to four feet deep.
Obvious signs of instability like cracking and collapsing may not be present until it’s too late and any slide could be large enough to bury, injure or kill you.
The forecast across the state of Colorado is ‘moderate risk’, but half of all Colorado avalanche fatalities occur under ‘moderate’ danger, so be careful out there.