Deck The Halls in Leadville – It’s Christmas Time!
Avalanche Reported Near Fremont Pass on Saturday
An avalanche near Fremont Pass was reported on Saturday, Dec 17 according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). No people or structures were involved in the incident on the high mountain pass located 9 miles north of Leadville. One of Leadville’s main thoroughfares in and out of town, Highway 91 runs over the pass, but travel was not affected as the avalanche was triggered in higher terrain.
The CAIC report continued: While the storm has passed and skies have cleared, dangerous avalanche conditions still exist on backcountry slopes at all elevations today. Over the past 3 days a powerful storm brought several feet of dense snow that has formed thick, wide slabs. On many slopes, these slabs sit above layers of weak, old snow and can be triggered remotely or break in unpredictable ways. As is typical, evidence from the Sawatch is limited, with one avalanche reported Saturday near Fremont Pass and several smaller slides near Monarch Pass on Friday, Dec. 16. However, dozens of avalanches have been reported in neighboring zones in the last two days. We’re not out of the woods yet, you could easily trigger a deadly avalanche today. Safe backcountry travel will require extremely cautious, conservative decisions and careful route selection.
It Doesn’t Take Much to Trigger a Slide: Field Report:
The recent rounds of snow storms, followed by some clearing with a slight increase in temperature, is exactly the kind of conditions which put back country adventurers at risk. Storm Slab avalanches release naturally during snow storms and can be triggered for a few days after a storm. They often release at or below the trigger point. They exist throughout the terrain. Avoid them by waiting for the storm snow to stabilize..
Taking present conditions into account, CAIC reported: All the evidence suggests that there is still a good chance you’ll trigger an avalanche if you get on a slope steeper than 30 degrees. Remotely triggering a slope from the bottom also remains a distinct possibility. Give the snowpack a bit more time to accommodate this large load. Stay alert and gather your own evidence as well: shooting cracks, collapsing, and recent avalanche activity all indicate instability, and suggest you should be even more conservative. If the weather forecast holds, conditions will likely improve substantially by mid-week.
About the CAIC: According to the CAIC website, the center began issuing public avalanche forecasts in 1973 as part of a research program, which became part of the Department of Natural Resources in 1983. The CAIC joined the Colorado Department of Transportation’s highway safety program in 1993. The Friends of the CAIC (a 501c3 group) formed in 2007 to promote avalanche safety in Colorado and support the recreation program of the CAIC.
In short, these are the people who regularly monitor conditions in the backcountry when it comes to avalanche susceptibility. And they know what they are talking about, so please take the warnings seriously as the local forecast call for yet another round of snow today, a slight reprieve over the weekend, and another round of storms forecasted for earlier next week.
While the CAIC does not report directly on specific conditions in Leadville and Lake County, these areas are included in the Sawatch Report. In addition, readers can find yesterday’s reports for neighboring Vail and Summit, as well as Aspen.