The Colorado Avalanche Information Center shared this scary video over the weekend, as a warning to all of us:
How and where we impact known buried weak layers can mean the difference between a no-feedback, “routine” run and triggering a dangerous avalanche on that same piece of terrain. This video of an avalanche incident near Leadville in Birdseye Gulch from February 11th illustrates that point. The skiers were fortunate to not trigger an avalanche. Moments later the snowmobiler, a larger trigger, was able to collapse the weak layer and trigger an avalanche. The second rider was buried with their head above the surface and not involved in the subsequent sympathetic avalanches.
Since the time of the avalanches in this video, it has become harder to trigger a deep avalanche. However, the possibility still exists as evidenced by a remote skier-triggered avalanche in the Front Range two days ago and another snowmobile triggered avalanche in the Vail Pass area yesterday. https://tinyurl.com/Vail-Pass-Feb-21
The likelihood of triggering a large and potentially deadly avalanche may increase as another storm moves in late on Saturday. Conservative terrain choices with attention to connected terrain and safe travel practices can help us manage the high degree of uncertainty with the complicated snowpack structure currently present in many backcountry zones.