CDOT fired more than 1,500 explosives during the avalanche mitigation season. 22 didn’t detonate and are still out in the mountains.
Those duds are spread across the high country, according to CDOT. Spokesperson Lisa Schwantes said they were shot into slide paths that the average hiker likely won’t access.
“Every single shot is very precise. We know exactly where the shot is taken,” she explained. “A lot of those shots are taken on slide areas that are very steep, very rugged terrain.”
Schwantes told us while it’s possible the duds may have moved with slides or melting snow, CDOT has a good understanding of where those unexploded charges are located now.
“Our program is pretty stringent,” she said. “Every single charge that is fired is accounted for. It’s documented by the team that's out there. They document whether or not that explosive was detonated. We know exactly which charges did not detonate.”
CDOT plans to send workers out to retrieve the duds once the snow melts. Officials aren’t releasing exactly where the explosives are for public safety. Though Schwantes said about half of them are near Red Mountain Pass.
“This year was an epic year for avalanches across the state, in particular for Red Mountain Pass,” Schwantes explained. “This pass was closed for close to 19 days this past winter. We had conducted several avalanche mitigation missions within that 19-day period. A couple of the last missions that we did we probably tried to knock down avalanche paths with 20-30 explosives on each of those missions.”
The charges look like large bullets or small torpedoes, according to CDOT. They can be yellow, orange, or blue. Stay away from the explosive if you spot one and call local law enforcement or CDOT.
An unexploded avalanche control device was found near Peak 7 in Breckenridge last year. The Summit County Sheriff’s office detonated the explosive safely.
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