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Rescue crews in Colorado have been working overtime this week after a spate of avalanches.
Officials responded to six human-triggered slides that occurred between Saturday, March 19, and Wednesday, March 23. Miraculously, there were no deaths or major injuries reported with the incidents.
Over the weekend, the Summit County Rescue Group responded to four human-triggered avalanches in Colorado’s ski country. One slide, on Sunday, March 20, near the town of Montezuma, swept two skiers down a 200-foot slope—both were able to free themselves from the debris.
Another human-triggered avalanche occurred that day in the Sky Chutes near Copper Mountain Ski Resort, and someone set off another near Mount Guyot, outside Breckenridge.
On Wednesday, two additional avalanches occurred near major roadways. A slide on Loveland Pass partially buried a vehicle, which was later freed by officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation. A sixth slide occurred near the summit of Berthoud Pass in an area called “the postage stamp” frequented by backcountry skiers.
Search and rescue crews said they saw tracks leading into and out of the slide area—more than 30 people searched the debris field but did not find anyone.
“Today was a good day,” said Brett Schroetlin of the Grand County Sheriff’s Department, “because we don’t have any victims. Unfortunately, in the past, it’s been different, and we never know what lies ahead tomorrow.”
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) currently rates the snowpack danger level as moderate (two out of five), but officials warned that backcountry skiers and snowshoers still need to be cautious.
“Moderate danger means you can trigger a dangerous avalanche in specific locations, so you need to know where those specific locations are,” said CAIC director Ethan Greene.“The way to do that is by looking at the avalanche forecast and planning your trip so you are avoiding the types of areas that the forecast describes.”
Colorado has recorded six avalanche deaths throughout the 2021–22 season. On March 17, a snowboarder was killed in a slide near Telluride, and on March 19, a backcountry skier died after triggering one outside Steamboat Springs.