Avalanche center needs help saving lives

Going into the backcountry anytime soon? If so, then you’re already wondering about snow conditions in the area where you’re planning to go.Thanks to the efforts of Brian McCall, director of the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center, and his team, you have access to local information about snow stability in the Roaring Fork River drainage. Check someday and see what McCall has created for this area’s many backcountry enthusiasts.On Thursday morning, in addition to a daily avalanche forecast for the “below treeline,” “treeline” and “alpine” zones, there was information about weather, snowpack and recent avalanche activity. There were also first-person observations from skiers who had been out touring and testing conditions for themselves.McCall himself had also posted a recent note, asking backcountry enthusiasts for more reports: “We have had good success with this observation page but lots more use would be great.”Given the large number of backcountry travelers in the Roaring Fork Valley, and the droves of out-of-towners who come here for hut trips and guided excursions, a service like the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center is clearly overdue. The site gets roughly 400 hits per day. But McCall is struggling for more than just reports from the field. He needs money to continue the service.McCall has spent his own personal savings to create and maintain a localized service that the well-known Colorado Avalanche Information Center simply cannot provide. Summit County and Crested Butte already have regional avalanche information services, and Pitkin County should have one, as well.But McCall needs support, and, like public radio and television stations, he must rely on the generosity of users to survive. If you’ve ever found yourself in need of weather and snow stability information, then please consider a donation to the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. It may help you personally on your next backcountry venture, and it certainly has the potential to save lives.Contributions can be made through the website,, or by mail to Roaring Fork Avalanche Center, P.O. Box 11533, Aspen, CO 81611.