Keep safe in the backcountry this winter, check avalanche forecasts
DENVER – Ahead of the holiday weekend, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to remind winter outdoor enthusiasts to check avalanche forecasts at www.colorado.gov/avalanche before going into the backcountry.
Early-season snowfall followed by heavy snow in December and early January has created dangerous avalanche conditions. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) interactive online map provides valuable, and potentially life-saving, information about dangerous avalanche areas around the state.
The CAIC recorded over 870 avalanches since Dec. 26, 2022. There has been a fatal avalanche accident each of the last three weekends, killing four people. The avalanche danger is not going down and people can expect these dangerous conditions throughout the holiday weekend.
“We have seen more avalanches this year than we do on a typical year, and recently they’ve gotten much bigger,” said CAIC’s Director Ethan Greene. “We want everyone to enjoy the wonderful public lands in Colorado and go home alive and well to their family and friends. We need everyone headed into the backcountry to plan their trip carefully and avoid avalanche hazards.”
In Colorado, outdoor adventurers must be mindful of the risks that winter weather and constantly shifting weather patterns can present. Dangerous weather conditions that raise concerns are unpredictable, such as strong wind gusts, heavy snow storms, cold water temperatures and avalanches.
Before heading out in the backcountry or on trails that go through avalanche terrain, CPW advises the following winter recreation safety tips:
Check the CAIC avalanche forecast and plan backcountry travel accordingly.
Take avalanche training.
Carry all required safety gear. Make sure you and every member of your group carry an avalanche-rescue transceiver, a probe pole, and a shovel – and know how to use this equipment.
Keep wildlife wild. Wildlife viewing ethics are particularly important during the winter. Maintain distance and do not chase animals.
Regardless if you enjoy relaxed activities like snowshoeing and ice fishing or more advanced activities like snowmobiling and skiing, CPW encourages people that plan to spend time outside this weekend and winter to recreate safely and be mindful of avalanches and wildlife on our landscapes.
Watch this Know Before You Go video to learn about why and when avalanches happen. For more information about CAIC’s education resources page, visit https://avalanche.state.co.us/education/resources.
To support avalanche safety programs in Colorado, visit cpw.info/keepcoloradowild. Colorado residents who get a $29 Keep Colorado Wild Pass with their vehicle registration through the Division of Motor Vehicles help support local search and rescue teams and avalanche safety programs.