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Officials warn avalanche danger will continue through Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has warned that dangerous avalanche conditions will last through the busy Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, when many may be heading into the backcountry.

“We have seen more avalanches this year than we do on a typical year, and recently they’ve gotten much bigger,” said Ethan Greene, director of the center, in a news release on Jan. 10.

According to the center, early season snowfall, followed by heavy snow in early December and early January created dangerous avalanche conditions.



“We want everyone to enjoy the wonderful public lands in Colorado, and go home alive and well to their family and friends on Monday,” Greene stated in the news release.  “We need everyone headed into the backcountry to plan their trip carefully and make sure they avoid avalanche hazards. We need to stop this deadly trend.”

Since Dec. 26, the center has recorded 870 avalanches. Four people have died in avalanches in Colorado this winter, and there has been a fatal avalanche accident each of the last three weekends. Three of the deaths occurred from slides in Grand County. The most recent accident occurred near Pumphouse Lake east of Winter Park on Jan. 7, resulting in the deaths of two men who were snowmobiling.  



According to the release, avalanches this season are getting larger. People may not see the usual danger signs but still be in a dangerous area. These include areas that may be perceived as safe, such as easy-to-access backcountry spots right off the highway, or backcountry access points accessed byleaving a ski resort area.

The center recommends that checking the avalanche forecast on their website at Colorado.gov/avalanche before heading into the backcountry. People can also check conditions on the Friends of CAIC’s mobile app and learn more about avalanche safety on the center’s education and resources webpage.

The center advises that every member of a backcountry group carry an avalanche-rescue transceiver, a probe pole and a shovel, and know how to use this equipment. 


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