Storm boosts avalanche caution

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— The storm that brought almost 17 inches of snow to the high country surrounding Steamboat Springs over the past three days also increased avalanche danger in the northern part of the state.

Officials at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported the danger in Routt County's backcountry isn't as high as it is elsewhere.

The avalanche danger in Colorado's northern mountains is considerable with pockets of high danger on all aspects at all elevations, Nick Logan of the avalanche center reported. He rated the "Steamboat zone" as moderate with pockets of considerable danger, one step down from the rest of the northern mountains.

Despite that report, Logan is urging backcountry travelers to avoid steeper slopes as human-triggered avalanches are possible to probable in mountain areas on slopes greater than 30 to 35 degrees. He urged skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers to beware of leeward terrain where winds are depositing snow, and slab conditions are building up.

The avalanche center collected reports on two avalanches, one controlled and one natural, in the Winter Park area over the weekend. There also were reports of avalanches with unusually long run-outs in the San Juan Mountains. One slide near Silverton ran more than 1,800 vertical feet to come close to Highway 550.

Logan said there were two natural avalanches reported on Berthoud Pass on Monday. Control work on Loveland Pass resulted in slides on all of the Seven Sisters avalanche routes. There were no reports of avalanches in the Steamboat backcountry.

Monarch Pass east of Gunnison turned in the heaviest snow total with 18 inches as of Sunday morning.

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