Last season, Colorado saw relatively sparse avalanche activity (*as well as low snow averages). Three fatalities were reported across the state, which is three less than the annual average. And while that doesn’t do anything to take away from the tragedy of those specific events, overall– it was a safe season for backcountry users.
The 2018/2019 season is markedly more dangerous. So far, 54 people have been reported “caught” in avalanches across the state this season, with 2 confirmed fatalities. The report below states that on average, “6 people die in avalanche accidents” each year in Colorado.
Stay safe out there people!
Find up-to-date avalanche advisories here: Colorado Avalanche Information Center
Full Statement [Friends of CAIC]:
So far this season, CAIC has recorded 54 people caught in avalanches. 19 people were partially buried (3 of whom had their heads beneath the snow) and 4 were completely buried. Tragically, 2 of these accidents resulted in fatalities. Given the numbers, it’s easy to see that we have had a lot of close calls and near misses. On average in a single season, CAIC gets reports of 63 people caught in avalanches and 6 people die in avalanche accidents.
The numbers above are just the incidents we know about, and we’re only half way through the season. Bottom line: we have dangerous snowpack conditions this year, and even if we inch across the line to Moderate danger, conditions will not be safe for the foreseeable future. Most avalanche accidents happen when the avalanche danger is rated MODERATE or CONSIDERABLE.
There were a lot of close calls over the last two months, but also some very good saves. Avalanche safety is a community effort and we all work together. Every day, the CAIC provides robust avalanche forecasts and discussions for 10 zones throughout Colorado. That is the one part of the forecasters’ role in the backcountry community. Our role, as backcountry users, is to read the forecasts and use the information to our advantage, help the forecasters by submitting observations, engage with our partners about avalanche safety as a group before, during, and after each adventure, and by donating to support avalanche safety as a whole in Colorado. Let’s keep doing our part and continue pushing the community forward.