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News in Brief

ARAPAHOE BASIN ” For Scott Toepfer, an avalanche forecaster for almost 30 years, Friday’s slide at Arapahoe Basin was a call to arms.

Toepfer’s job is to forecast snow conditions in hopes of preventing fatalities. Each day during the winter, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center ” Toepfer’s employer ” posts warnings on its phone system and by e-mail letting people know the possibilities for avalanches.

However, Friday’s slide, which killed a 53-year-old Boulder man, is a learning experience for everyone involved, Toepfer said.

Despite huge advances in technology and knowledge about snow in the past 30 years, the Breckenridge resident said it doesn’t mean forecasters will ever master the science.

“I know what the patrollers at Arapahoe Basin are going through, and it’s horrible,” he said. “From a scientist’s perspective, we’re probably the only ones not suffering.”

Toepfer, another member of the avalanche center and the A-Basin ski patrol surveyed the site on Sunday with probes and scanners, but found no more victims. They also looked at the fracture line profile ” the layers of snow ” and found a few unique occurrences that could have contributed to the avalanche.

The run faces north, which, according to this year’s patterns, are the type that have experienced slab avalanches in the northern mountains. Weak, sugary (and now wet) layers found near the ground are more abundant on north aspects, as well, Toepfer said.

Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women has or will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. But there is also good news.

“If detected early, the five-year survival rate exceeds 95 percent,” the foundation website says.

For women in the Roaring Fork and Colorado river valleys, hospitals offer mammography that can provide early detection of breast abnormalities.

Currently, if a mammogram shows an area of concern in a woman’s breast, the only option at Valley View Hospital for identifying whether an abnormality is cancerous is a breast biopsy, a surgical procedure.

Women can also elect to travel to Denver for a stereotactic core biopsy, a less invasive, and less expensive, technique.

About 30 women per month require breast biopsies in the valley, some of whom make the trip to the Sally Job Breast Center in Denver for the stereotactic procedure.

This year, the Valley View Foundation has set a goal to raise $200,000 toward purchase of stereotactic equipment.

“What the foundation is trying to do is bring services to the hospital so that people don’t have to go out of town,” said foundation president Mary Steinbrecher.


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