Avalanche Danger and Safety

Colorado Avalanche Information Center logoThis has been a deadly and dangerous year for avalanches in Colorado. This past weekend alone, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) recorded 23 avalanches around the state, and that’s just those that people have witnessed. So far this season, there have been 11 fatalities, the most since the winter of 2012-13…which this year may surpass, since it’s still only February. CAIC’s website has statistics on avalanche accidents for each year, including numbers on fatalities and survivals, as well as which activity the victims were engaged in (skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing/climbing/hiking). The website also includes avalanche forecasts, condition maps, safety information, and more, so be sure and check this helpful resource before heading out into the backcountry.

CAIC has also co-produced a video, Know Before You Go. Featuring spectacular footage and interviews with professional skiers and snowboarders, it highlights the importance of being prepared. CAIC also offers Know Before You Go (KBYG) classes for schools.

Also helpful is Avalanche Wise: Your Guide to Avalanche Safety in Colorado. This CAIC publication provides easy-to-understand information on how avalanches form, how to test the snow for weak areas, and what you can do to increase your chances of survival if an avalanche occurs. This guide is helpful not only for those taking part in winter recreation, but also for rescuers and for those traveling along mountain roads.

Finally, you can read about new technologies the Colorado Department of Transportation is using to study avalanche danger on mountain passes in this report. For additional studies on avalanches in Colorado, search the State Publications Library’s online catalog.

Amy Zimmer
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