Possibility of more avalanches as snow begins to melt, experts say

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DENVER – After an historic winter of avalanche activity in Colorado, experts are warning about more possible slides this spring.

Over the weekend, at least ten people were involved in several avalanches statewide, including two in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“We have this convergence of relatively small avalanches but people heading into the terrain where those avalanches are,” said Spencer Logan with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

CAIC says recent avalanche activity is due to an abundance of snow on the peaks from the winter, coupled with new snow from recent late-season storms and warm temperatures.

“We go from cold, frozen snow that makes a good snowball and then snow that’s more like a Slurpee and once it’s Slurpee that water acts as a lubricant and it moves with a lot of strength,” Logan said.

Slopes in the back country will be particularly risky through Tuesday, Logan said.

While the avalanches may be small and isolated to a particular area, those are areas that can be really fun to ride,” he said.

Back country users need to be aware of avalanche dangers in high country terrain.

“As you get into this steep terrain even small avalanches can have serious consequences. They flush you down a gully or sweep you over a cliff,” Logan said.

If you’re on a slope and begin sinking into six inches of slush, it’s time to get off the mountain and get to safety.

“You have to pay attention to the warming and how sloppy the snow surface is getting and you have to look for the cold snow on these really steep high alpine lines and be aware of triggering small avalanches and potential for small avalanches to carry you into really unpleasant terrain,” he said.

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