March weather, avalanche conditions ‘unprecedented’ in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

March weather, avalanche conditions ‘unprecedented’ in Aspen

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen Ski Patrol members were up early Thursday morning doing avalanche control work on Aspen Mountain. The slide pictured here created a pile of snow at the entrance to Kleenex Corner.
Mike Britt/Aspen Ski Patrol |

Large portions of Aspen Mountain were closed Thursday morning as ski patrollers worked hard to make the terrain safe after several days of unseasonable weather.

The weather patterns and conditions on Aspen Mountain this week are “unprecedented,” Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said Thursday. Warm temperatures and sunshine created avalanche concerns earlier in the week, while the rain and snow that fell Wednesday and early Thursday morning added to the problem.

Hanle said ski patrol knew that with the warm temperatures and rain, combined with weak overnight freezes, would create a large workload for them.

“The teams were up early (Thursday) doing control work. They brought down some significant activity into Spar and Copper,” Hanle said. “We had to shut down the lower half of the mountain.”

By late morning, top-to-bottom skiing was only open on the west side of the mountain via Lift 1A or Ruthie’s.

“It’s been a very challenging and unique set of circumstances,” Hanle said. “Some of the patrolmen are saying they haven’t seen anything like this in a while.”

Water has infiltrated the snowpack and persistent weak layers, according to Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Brian Lazar’s Thursday morning forecast discussion for the Aspen zone. Those layers can “reawaken” when they get wet for the first time, he wrote.

“This helps explain all wet avalanche activity we’ve seen in the last couple/few days,” the forecast discussion said.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.



News

Wildlife officials: Even with abundant natural foods for bears around Aspen, people need to secure sources

August 19, 2019

An abundant bounty of natural food is expected for bears around the Aspen area but serviceberry, choke cherry and acorns are generally maturing late because of all the snow last winter and a wet, cool spring. Wildlife officers stress that even with abundant natural food available, people need to eliminate food sources for bruins because they will always go for an easy meal.



See more