Despite little snowfall, avalanche caution still advised in Steamboat backcountry | SteamboatToday.com

Despite little snowfall, avalanche caution still advised in Steamboat backcountry

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Avalanche danger was listed as moderate Tuesday for the Steamboat Springs area, and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center urged caution even though it is early in the season.

CAIC expected to downgrade the danger to low Wednesday for the Steamboat area.

According to CAIC, there is little snow in the immediate forecast, which leads them to believe avalanche conditions will improve.

"There are still isolated shady slopes at high elevations where you can trigger a potentially dangerous avalanche," CAIC wrote on its website Tuesday. "These slopes have both weak snow near the ground with a stiffer slab overlying the weak layers."

CAIC urges people to use caution on those slopes in the backcountry.

The Steamboat area saw an active avalanche season last year.

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A snowmobile triggered an avalanche on Rabbit Ears Pass on Dec. 11. Three riders were buried, but everyone had avalanche safety equipment and survived.

On Jan. 12, an avalanche in the Fish Creek drainage injured a Routt County Search and Rescue member who was on his way to rescue two lost skiers.

On Feb. 14, Steamboat resident Jesse Christensen was killed in an avalanche while riding a snowbike in the Flat Tops Wilderness. Another man Christensen was riding with survived the incident.

The avalanche season has already been deadly in the United States.

Hayden Kennedy, a renowned climber and Carbondale native, committed suicide after his girlfriend Inge Perkins died Oct. 7 in an avalanche while the pair was skiing in rugged Montana backcountry.

On Nov. 18, a snowboarder was caught and partially buried but not injured in an avalanche in the area of Greg Mace Peak in central Colorado.

"He couldn’t see, couldn’t get above the snow and thought he was going to hit a tree and die," CAIC wrote in their report. "He estimated he was moving at highway speeds."

Avalanche danger was listed at low and moderate Tuesday in the Colorado mountains.

"Watch for obvious signs of instability like shooting cracks or the sound of collapsing," CAIC wrote. "You can reduce your risk by avoiding slopes steeper than around 30 degrees that have a stiff enough surface slab to support your weight."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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