GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Following a deadly avalanche in Grand County over the weekend that left two snowmobilers dead, rescue experts are warning others of avalanche danger.

“The snowpack is really tender out there. Some of them are human-caused and some are running naturally,” Charles Pitman, the mission coordinator for Summit County Rescue Group, said Monday.

Pitman said it doesn’t matter what type of outdoor backcountry activity you are doing, everyone needs to check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website for information before heading out.

“The snowpack has multiple layers and that’s one of the reasons Colorado has more fatalities I believe, by a factor of two than any other state in the union. Our snowpack is different, so you have to dig down and figure out the weak layers,” Pitman said.

He said scientists with CAIC go out almost every day to try and determine how stable the snowpack is.

“There is a lot that goes into knowing if a slope is stable, but just looking at it you could get yourself in a lot of trouble by doing that,” Pitman said.  

Scott Jones, the executive director of the Colorado Snowmobile Association, said he has been snowmobiling most of his life and was devastated to hear about the two snowmobilers killed over the weekend.

“Thoughts and prayers. It’s a horrible situation. We all do what we can to get our protection and gear and education but we all know wrong place, wrong time and it can happen. It seems everyone in the backcountry accepts that,” Jones said.

Jones described the Colorado snowmobile community as a family. He also said just like skiing and snowboarding it can be dangerous in the backcountry despite having a machine for help.

“You can’t outrun an avalanche on a sled,” Jones said. “Riding in Colorado is not fast. Even if the sled is full throttle, you’ll be going 10 mph across the field at best.”  

Pitman said just a few years ago they only had 100 missions a year to help people.

“The gear you must have is a probe pole, shovel and avalanche transponder,” Pitman said.  

Just in 2022, they had just under 200 missions. He said people are starting to use the backcountry more.