Skier starts slide on closed run in Highland Bowl |

Skier starts slide on closed run in Highland Bowl

Lauren Glendenning
The Aspen Times
A photo taken from the top of Ruthie's on Aspen Mountain shows the skier-triggered avalanche that happened in a closed section of Highland Bowl Tuesday.
Jeff McCollum/Courtesy photo |

A skier triggered an avalanche in Highland Bowl on Monday on B-Fore, a run located roughly halfway between the main gate and the summit.

Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said the run was closed and the skier apparently ducked a rope from adjacent terrain. The person skied out safely and reported the avalanche to ski patrol.

Ski patrol checked the terrain and decided to do some control work on a run right next to B-Fore, Hanle said. He didn’t say whether it was Grahamster’s or Steep ‘N Deep, but the work did trigger another slide.

“When we close runs, we close them for very specific reasons, and it’s for everyone’s safety,” Hanle said. “No matter what, don’t duck under a rope.”

When it gets this warm, Hanle said ski patrol will often put a rope across Temerity or Steeplechase by noon because that terrain just sits in the sun all afternoon. Highland Bowl terrain in the B’s and Hot Y’s with south- and east-facing slopes can often close during the spring, he said.

The sound of avalanche bombs rattled through downtown Aspen on Tuesday afternoon as Aspen Ski Patrol worked on Traynor Ridge, located on the flanks of Shadow Mountain, above Lift 1A.

Ski patrollers are watching temperatures and sun-exposed terrain this time of year to make sure conditions are safe, Hanle said. It’s often a game-time decision as to whether explosives are needed for mitigation.

“With warm temperatures and plentiful sunshine, there could be more lower mountain blasting in the next couple of weeks,” Hanle said. “Generally that would happen in early-to-mid afternoon.”

The Aspen zone backcountry avalanche danger was listed as moderate Tuesday, the second rating on the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s five-tier danger scale. The center reported “numerous large, natural, wet-snow avalanches” in the backcountry Monday and noted that such slides would pose more widespread dangers Tuesday due to the warm, sunny weather.

“Safe travel practices for these conditions are simple: avoid being on or under steep, sun-exposed slopes after midday,” forecaster Blase Reardon wrote in Tuesday’s forecast summary. “If the snow is wet and unsupportable, you’ve stayed way too long at the party.”

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