DENVER (KDVR) — The snowfall in the high country during mid-October and the warmer temperatures this week led to the perfect conditions for the first reported avalanche on Mountain Boy Peak.
On Oct. 15, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported the first known avalanche of the season.
Two skiers saw the avalanche, and one triggered it by measuring the snow depth on the northwestern side of the mountain. During this time, it was 37 degrees with winds at 10 mph.
According to CAIC, the slide ran for about 300 feet before coming to a stop. Debris from the slide was around three to four feet deep.
Last season, CAIC received 5,813 reports of avalanches. Of those reports, there were 11 avalanche-related deaths, which is four more than the annual average over the past 10 years.
However, more than 11 people were stuck in an avalanche last year. There were 122 people caught in avalanches, exceeding the 10-year median of 84 people.
Sometimes the difference between life and death is the equipment you bring and how you act in the backcountry.
According to CAIC, these are some basic avalanche safety tips you should follow while in the high country.
- Recognize avalanche terrain
- Avalanches can happen when the slope is steeper than 30 degrees. Avalanches usually occur during or after a snowstorm, during strong winds, or when the weather is heating up.
- Recognize the signs of unstable snow
- Avoid areas where you can see recent avalanches, cracks in the snow or hear the snow collapsing.
- Carry avalanche rescue equipment
- Bring a transceiver when you’re on avalanche-prone terrain. An avalanche transceiver transmits and receives a signal that can be used to find someone buried under snow. Carry a probe with you as well, which will show your exact location.
You have on average 15 to 30 minutes of air when you are buried under the snow. Last season, four of the people who died did not wear transceivers.
CAIC also recommends an airbag pack, which can increase your chances of staying near the surface of an avalanche.
While there have been no recorded deaths this season, it’s just the beginning. If you are in avalanche-prone areas, make sure you are prepared.