Now that there’s snow on Colorado’s mountains, there’s also the danger of avalanches. Colorado leads the United States in avalanche deaths, averaging around six a year.
Right now, most of Colorado’s mountains are classified as having a moderate risk of avalanches, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. You can see what that looks like in map below. On the CAIC site, you can navigate to more detailed local forecasts.
CAIC director Ethan Greene says checking avalanche forecasts the day of your mountain excursion should be part of your planning. It’s smart to be familiar with some basic signs of unsafe conditions as well.
The best predictor of a future avalanche is current activity. If you see an avalanche happen on a nearby slope, it’s likely one will happen where you are. You should avoid the area.
Another key thing to remember: keep your ears open. “You'll be walking through the snow, and you can hear large, what we call 'woomfing' sounds, that sort of sound like low rolling thunder where the whole snowpack is collapsing,” Greene says.
“Because there wasn't a lot of snow early in November, the riding conditions, the places where you can ski or snowboard right now are kind of limited. And those places, where the riding conditions are the best, are also where the avalanche conditions are most dangerous."
Have a few extra minutes? Take a look at this video below called Know Before You Go: