DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is reminding Coloradans to be careful in the high country this week after skiers triggered an avalanche Wednesday on Richmond Ridge, south of Aspen.
CAIC officials said in a Facebook post Thursday the avalanche started below a rock outcrop on an east-facing slope that was about 35 degrees in steepness, and ran about 300 vertical feet down the open and tree-covered slope.
“Looking down, it doesn’t seem that steep… And those trees mean it’s safe, right?,” CAIC officials wrote, before explaining it can be easy to underestimate the current potential for avalanches. “Conditions are dangerous or very dangerous across most of our mountains. Avalanches can be triggered from a distance or low on the slope,” they wrote.
Officials said avalanches can break widely across terrain features and may run farther than you might expect. They added slides are running in big, obvious avalanche paths and on smaller, subtle terrain features at the moment.
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An Avalanche Warning is in effect for areas surrounding Wolf Creek, Cumbres, and La Manga Passes, as well as for the Elk Mountains, West Elk Mountains, and the northwestern Sawatch Range, according to the CAIC website.
“Heavy snow and strong winds have created very dangerous avalanche conditions,” CAIC officials wrote in their forecast, adding some avalanches will release naturally and warning backcountry travelers they can trigger a slide from a distance or below slopes. CAIC officials advise those recreating in the backcountry to avoid travel in or under avalanche terrain.
Considerable avalanche danger persists across the northern and central mountains and some parts of southern Colorado.