Avalanche catches climbers in Summit County | VailDaily.com

Avalanche catches climbers in Summit County

Bob Berwyn
Summit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” As wintry weather advances into Colorado, avalanche forecasters said Wednesday that several slides already have been reported from the Front Range to Summit County to the San Juan mountains.

Last Saturday, three climbers roped together triggered a wind slab high on the slopes of 14,267-foot Torreys Peak, on the Continental Divide between Summit and Clear Creek counties.

The climbers were carried more than 1,000 feet down the slope and suffered moderate injuries, according Colorado Avalanche Information Center director Ethan Greene.

A few other avalanches have been reported from the mountains around Telluride, where several feet of snow already have fallen, Greene said.

Wind-loaded pockets and slabs can form at high elevation early in the season. Climbers and skiers already need to be on the lookout for potential slabs by watching for cracks and listening for collapsing snow, Greene said.

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Even shallow early-season slides can have nasty consequences, carrying skiers and climbers over exposed rocks, he added.

The avalanche center is planning to issue electronic and telephone forecasts within the next few weeks after resolving a few outstanding technical issues.

Greene said the storm track the next few days should bring some decent snows to the mountains north of Interstate 70, including the Flat Tops and the mountains around Steamboat Springs. Summit County could see a few inches, along with plenty of wind, Greene said.

The best way to get timely weather forecasts for specific mountain zones, as well as avalanche condition updates, is to join the grassroots Friends of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at http://avalanche.state.co.us/FriendsofCAIC/About/.

To help fundraising, the group is seeking nonprofit status, according to Lance Lary, a formal Aspen Highlands ski patroller heading up the effort.

The move would make it easier to hold fundraising events and for businesses to donate to the avalanche center, Lary explained.

At this point, it would help to have some people involved on the board of the nonprofit with business and fundraising experience, he said. Contact the avalanche center at caic@qwest.net for more information.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or bberwyn@summitdaily.com.

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