Avalanche warning in effect for Aspen area
The blizzard Tuesday night and Wednesday sent avalanche conditions “spiking” throughout most of Colorado’s mountains, including the Aspen area, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
An avalanche warning was issued for the Aspen zone Wednesday through noon today.
“You can expect a widespread avalanche cycle, including both natural- and-human triggered slides,” said the forecast for the Aspen zone by the avalanche center’s Blase Reardon. “Many of these slides will be big enough to bury or kill you. Travel in the backcountry near, on or below any slope greater than 30 degrees is not advised.”
The heavy snow on the mountains around Aspen came with a strong southwesterly wind that “deposited unstable slabs on steep slopes that had weak snow surfaces,” the forecast said. The new snow from the storm won’t bond easily with the weaker deep areas, it added.
Reardon warned that conditions will change rapidly and required frequent reassessment.
“Weak layers will be very touchy, with the potential to trigger large, dangerous avalanches from a distance,” his forecast on the avalanche center’s website said.
The avalanche rating Tuesday by the center was “high” above and near treeline and “considerable” below treeline.
The Avalanche Information Center repeated numerous times that conditions are complex and “very dangerous.”
The avalanche warning also was issued for the Gunnison zone south of Aspen, the Sawatch Range to the east and the Vail and Summit County zone to the northeast as well as the Front Range and Northern San Juan Mountains elsewhere in the state.
The full report for the Aspen zone is available at https://avalanche.state.co.us/pub_bc_avo.php?zone_id=4.
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The devastating Marshall Fire in Boulder County has added urgency to wildfire mitigation planning in Aspen and Pitkin County.