A slab avalanche remote triggered on November 12, 2021. Credit: CAIC
Three avalanches were triggered by skiers/riders in Colorado last week, according to reports to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). There have been 49 avalanches reported this season already.
Related: The Dangers of Early Season Backcountry Skiing
On Thursday, two separate slides were remotely triggered on Mount Baldy, Schofield Pass by skiers with the Crested Butte Avalanche Center.
Snowpack: 6″ to 8″ of new storm snow over a generally weak and faceted snowpack (.5 – 1.5mm facets) mixed with a few crusts on more easterly aspects. Fresh drifts up to 2 feet thick. We noted consistent collapsing and shooting cracks up to 50 feet on every wind-loaded feature, along with some shooting cracks where winds have stiffened the snow surface. These all appeared to be failing on the storm interface. In wind-protected areas, we noted only minor cracking. Stability test in a wind-sheltered slope showed no propagation.
Avalanches: A handful of natural activity ran during last night’s snowfall, mostly small, with one longer running D2. We remotely triggered a couple of small pockets of wind slab from about 30 feet away, and remotely triggered a larger D1.5 wind slab that was about 50 feet wide and ran about 600 feet over rocks.
Remotely triggered wind slab from the ridgeline. It broke about a foot thick. Credit: CAIC
Another occurred in the southern Gore Range in Summit County on Friday and was triggered by a skier.
Slab avalanche triggered remotely from above on a lower angled slope. One skier jumped on the snow hard and this slide broke about 20m down the slope on a steeper rollover. Didn’t get close to the crown but I would guess about 2 ft at the deepest point. ~12,000’ NE aspect. Gully feature with obvious cross-loading.
No avalanche-related injuries were reported.
Avalanche danger is moderate in Colorado’s Northern and Central Mountains, the CAIC said in a Facebook post yesterday.
The avalanche danger is Moderate (Level 2 of 5) in the Northern Mountains and most of the Central Mountains. There are differences in the most dangerous areas from forecast zone to forecast zone. Find out all the details by visiting colorado.gov/avalanche or using our app.
No matter where you are in the backcountry today, the key to staying safe is identifying and avoiding heavily wind-loaded slopes. On northerly and east-facing slopes above treeline, newly drifted slabs of snow sit on top of softer, collapsible weak layers. These avalanches can run near or at the ground. Getting caught in one of these avalanches would lead to a very rough ride through rocks and other obstacles.