9 People Caught in Colorado Avalanches in Past 7 Days

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It’s been one of the worst seasons for avalanche fatalities in Colorado in the past 100 years. This past week alone, 9 people were caught in avalanches in Colorado. Thankfully, no one has been seriously injured or killed.

Friendsofcaic, a social media page geared towards spreading avalanche awareness in Colorado, reported the following this morning: 

9 people have been caught in avalanches in the last 7 days. One of those went for a very serious ride in the Gore Range yesterday. Thankfully no one has been seriously injured or worse. New snow and wind have created thick slabs in areas around the state. These slabs are sitting over weaker snow. Don’t let them surprise you. Even a small slide could make for a very bad day.

Winds have transported snow into thick slabs sitting on weak layers near ridgetops, which makes a recipe for disaster. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center wrote in a social media post this morning about the recent Gore Range avalanche:

Two backcountry tourers were caught in an avalanche in steep terrain yesterday in the Gore Range in Summit County. They were climbing up a couloir when they triggered an avalanche 10 feet above them. One person was swept 1000 feet down the couloir. Fortunately, they were not injured and they were able to get back out to the trailhead under their own power.

This avalanche is a prime example of what we have to deal with today and through the weekend. Winds have transported snow into thick slabs near ridgetop. These slabs rest over weaker and softer layers. If you think that you can treat extreme terrain like you did last weekend (when the danger was Low), you may get surprised. Conditions have changed in the last seven days as recent winds redistributed new snow. Adjust your travel plans to the conditions.

The photo below is from a fatal accident on April 15, 2020, in the Gore Range. The accident report read, “The weather for several days before the accident included small amounts of new snow and 20 to 30 mph winds. These are ideal conditions for wind loading.”

As the CAIC advises, conditions in Colorado have changed and avalanches are now possible in steep terrain, meaning that you may have to adjust your travel plans to the current conditions. 

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