Avalanches are a part of snow sports. Whether the highway is closed on your way to the resort, or you’re a backcountry enthusiast studying the layers of snowpack, avalanche awareness is essential. It is especially when recreating in the backcountry, and preparation is key. Possessing the proper equipment and knowing the conditions are essential to safely enjoying your excursion.
An average of 27 people per year are killed in avalanches throughout the United States. Since 1950, 305 lives have been lost in avalanches triggered in the Colorado Rockies. Colorado has had more avalanche deaths than any other state in the US.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) is a non-profit that works with the government to provide backcountry avalanche safety resources, as well as reliable avalanche forecasting for the Rocky Mountains. The organization keeps track of avalanches throughout the state. This allows them to study the characteristics of an avalanche which in turn produces accurate forecasting and understanding for future slides. Even non-lethal avalanches are reported.
Not only does the CAIC provide forecasting, but they also teach about avalanche safety and awareness. They offer free avalanche awareness classes to the public and provide tons of resources to provide further information about avalanche safety and forecasting.
The organization most recently created an interactive map for skiers and riders. The tool allows adventure planners to view both avalanche forecasts and any recent slide data in specific backcountry zones. Data from past avalanches, like how it was triggered, how destructive it was, and at what elevation the slide occurred, are also included. To better understand all the information provided, click on the question mark icon in the top right corner of the interactive map.
This new tool is an excellent resource for backcountry enthusiasts to plan their next trip. Users can easily filter through many different characteristics of avalanches that have occurred. It makes planning your trip a breeze. The creation of this new tool perfectly represents The CAIC’s free course title, “Know Before You Go.”