Avalanche warning continues for Vail area | VailDaily.com

Avalanche warning continues for Vail area

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – Snow was falling as hard as 2 inches per hour Thursday night, prompting an avalanche warning throughout much of the high country that remains in effect until noon today.

The danger remains high throughout the weekend, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which warns of both natural and human-triggered slides. The warning also states that some slides could be “large and destructive.”

“Travel in the backcountry is not recommended,” the warning reads. “You will be able to trigger avalanches from remote distances and from low angle terrain. Be cautious near or below any slopes 30 degrees or steeper. Even small avalanches can bury and kill you.”

The avalanche conditions have been so dangerous this month that avid backcountry skiers and riders have avoided their favorite powder stashes all together. The risks are just too high, Avon backcountry snowboarder Zach Taylor said before the latest storm hit.

Vail Mountain reported 11 inches of new snow Friday morning, and it was still falling throughout the morning as skiers and riders lined up in droves at the resort’s chairlifts. The new snow is great news for the state and its ski resorts, meaning more terrain openings and a deeper base, but the underlying dangers are also brought to light when snow piles up.

Last Sunday, a 13-year-old skier died in bounds at Vail Mountain on the Prima Cornice run, which the resort said was partially closed at the time, after an avalanche.

There have been four avalanche deaths in Colorado so far this season, all of which occurred this month. The deaths happened near Snowmass, near Steamboat Springs and two in-bounds deaths at both Vail and Winter Park.

“Three people were killed in separate avalanche accidents since last weekend’s storm overloaded Colorado’s fragile snowpack,” the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s Friday backcountry avalanche forecast said. “… You can easily trigger avalanches large enough to bury you on or near slopes 30 degrees and steeper. Expect human-triggered avalanches to remain likely through the weekend.”

For the Vail-Summit avalanche zone, forecasters say wind slabs on north, northeast, east and southeast aspects near and above treeline are the primary concern. Storm slabs below treeline could also be dangerous because they’re resting on a weak foundation of snow, the report said.

Jeff Cricco reported to the Avalanche Center Jan. 18 the dangers in East Vail, a popular so-called sidecountry area accessible from Vail Mountain. Cricco reported “slides all over East Vail.”

“Going to be a scary couple of months coming up,” Cricco’s report said.

The next chance for snow is Monday through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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