Avalanche Danger in Colorado is “Worst in 30 Years”
About this time every year, at the end of February or beginning of March, helicopters fly above the peak at the east end of the Telluride valley (Ajax) and do avalanche control work, dropping bombs and causing slides that are incredible and awe-inspiring to watch. This year, nature beat them to it: a huge fracture appeared and the slope slid, causing billowing snow and debris to cascade down the cliff bands in a powerful shower.
Avalanche danger in the state is at a 30-year high, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. There have been six fatalities so far this season, including a local snowboarder, and 16 people have been caught in avalanches. Local forecaster Matt Steen shows us the avalanche danger in Ophir’s swamp canyon, where another skier was swept up in a slide but survived—although the dog touring with him did not.
This is a scary season to be out in the backcountry and a good one to take advantage of Telluride’s patrolled and controlled slopes. If you do intend to venture out, make sure you have the proper equipment, evaluate the avalanche hazards and check the CAIC forecast of the conditions.