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Spike in people caught in avalanches cause for concern heading into snowy, dangerous weekend

March 29, 2024, 4:06 pm

CAIC photo: Ptarmigan Fingers Avalanche: On March 21, two people were caught in an avalanche ascending a slope in Rocky Mountain National Park near the Ptarmigan Fingers Area. 

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) on Friday issued the following press release on an increase in people getting caught in avalanches in Colorado ahead of a very snowy Easter weekend:

BOULDER – Since last Thursday, March 21, 19 people have been caught in 17 avalanches in the northern San Juan Mountains, Elk Mountains, Gore Range, and Rocky Mountain National Park, with three people partially buried and one person fully buried. Between Wednesday and Thursday alone, eight people were caught in seven avalanches. 

“The increasing number of people recently caught in avalanches is concerning—especially as we head into a weekend with fresh snow and Considerable avalanche danger. The increased avalanche danger means there is an even greater chance of triggering an avalanche and it could be bigger than previous days,” said CAIC Director Ethan Greene. “Thankfully, no one has been seriously injured or worse. We want everyone to enjoy our wonderful public lands and go home alive and well to their family and friends.”

CAIC has recorded more than 5,000 avalanches so far this season, with 102 people caught, 37 people partially buried, 6 people fully buried, and 14 people injured in avalanches this winter. Tragically, two people have been killed in avalanches this season.  

“Many of the recent incidents were in steep, consequential terrain. It might be late March and officially spring, but we still have winter avalanche conditions. People should be making travel plans based on the current snowpack – not the calendar,” said Greene. “We need everyone headed into the backcountry to check the avalanche forecast and make sure your plan for the day fits the current avalanche conditions.”

Avalanche Safety Tips:

  • Check the forecast (www.colorado.gov/avalanche)
  • Get some training (article, online material, evening to multi-day class)
  • Be prepared (regarding avalanches, carry avalanche transceiver, probe pole, and shovel)

For more information about CAIC’s education resources page, visit https://avalanche.state.co.us/education/resources. To support avalanche safety programs in Colorado, Colorado residents can get a $29 Keep Colorado Wild Pass with their vehicle registration through the DMV. For more information, visit cpw.info/keepcoloradowild

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