Two adventurers swept up in separate avalanches after ignoring warning signs

Avalanche on mountain
(Image credit: Getty)

Two people were caught in separate avalanches in Saturday December 10, and both have admitted ignoring signs that the snow beneath their feet may be unstable.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (opens in new tab) (CAIC) reports that two incidents happened in the state over the weekend: one involving a skier near Jones Pass (opens in new tab) in the Front Range, and another involving a snowmobiler in the northern Gore Range (opens in new tab). CAIC, which keeps a tally of avalanche accidents and fatalities (opens in new tab), explained that both individuals should have been more careful. 

"In both incidents, the parties were aware of the dangerous conditions," a spokesperson said. "They both mentioned that they got too close to a slope they knew was dangerous and their margins for safety were too thin."

As OutThere Colorado (opens in new tab) reports, both people were fortunate enough to avoid serious injury this time,

Even pros can be caught out

CAIC explained that it is dealing with large persistent slab avalanches in many areas. As the name suggests, this is a phenomenon that occurs when a thick slab of snow forms over a persistent weak layer. The weak layer may be up to 1m below the surface, and when the snow slides, the resulting avalanche can be huge and destructive. 

"These avalanche surprise even the most seasoned avalanche professionals, said CAIC. "They can break much wider than you think and break in ways you may not have seen before.

"The only way to reduce your risk to these avalanches is to stay off of and far away from steep slopes where this problem exists. This means also avoiding lower angle, locally connected slopes."

Always check for avalanche warnings before heading out into the mountains, and be aware of warnings signs. Evidence of previous slides suggests that the area is unstable and should be avoided, and you should avoid crossing big slabs of packed ice and snow created by the wind.

Stay alert and look out for cracks appearing under your feet, or a sound of cracking or 'whumphing' that indicates the ice has begin to move. For more advice, see our guide to avalanche safety.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).