Dog dies in Loveland Pass avalanche
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” Two skiers escaped an avalanche they triggered on Loveland Pass Tuesday, but one of their dogs could not be found.
According to Summit County Search and Rescue, the two skiers set off slides down Dave’s Wave and Ironingboard, two popular backcountry ski runs between Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Pass.
Rescue teams were told to stand down after learning that both skiers were safely out of harms way, but unfortunately one of the skier’s dog was unable to be found.
Authorities cite fresh snow and high winds as one of the causes of the slide and are advising people to take extra caution when heading into the backcountry.
“Right now it’s very dangerous out there,” said Michael Schmitt with Summit County Search and Rescue. “We want to advise people to pay close attention to avalanche warnings by going online before heading out.”
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is one of the best resources for avalanche information and has up-to-date information regarding weather as well as snowpack conditions. Currently, the avalanche danger for the Vail Summit Zone is considerable, and high winds are creating fresh drifts and slabs which are highly susceptible to sliding.
Warm days and cold nights during October and November resulted in a weak base.
The added layers from more recent storms created an unstable snowpack with many different layers.
“Many of the recent avalanches happening in the area have been triggered on low angle slopes,” said Ethan Green at the avalanche center. “There have been a lot of new snow avalanches with slides happening after just one storm in snow that is three to six feet deep.”
There have been two avalanche burials in the last three days, both triggered by human activity, and authorities are warning individuals that having the right gear is not enough to prevent against serious injury or loss of life.
“Knowing how to use rescue equipment like beacons and probes is not enough to ensure survival,” Green said. “People need to understand that avalanches are not always random acts of nature. Skiers act as a catalyst and many avalanches could be prevented if people were better educated.”
Since 1950, avalanches in Colorado have killed more people than any other natural hazard.
Skiers looking to tackle the backcountry should also be aware that danger exists at every point on the mountain. Earlier this week a group of skiers hiking up Herman Gulch across from Loveland Ski Area got caught in a slide even before putting their skis on, proving that, although low angle slopes may seem safe, they can also be prone to avalanche activity.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center: http://avalanche.state.co.us/