COLORADO, USA — Two people have died in the past week after avalanches swept them away in Colorado’s backcountry.
Avalanche conditions in the mountains are very dangerous right now, creating a deadly mix with the holidays.
"Whenever we have a confluence of very dangerous avalanche conditions coinciding with a holiday period, this is a really bad recipe for avalanche accidents," said Brian Lazar, Deputy Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. "Mother Nature doesn’t really care that this is our holiday period or this is people’s vacation or time off from work. We have to travel according to her rules."
Colorado sees an average of six avalanche deaths a year. The backcountry season is off to a deadly start after this past week. With more snow on the way, the danger isn’t letting up.
In both cases this week, the avalanches were triggered in backcountry areas that are easily accessible. On Dec. 26, it was on Berthoud Pass. On Saturday, it was just outside Breckenridge in a backcountry area accessible from the ski area.
In the most recent avalanche, a father and his adult son were caught and both buried. The father was able to free himself, but couldn’t find his son. He went to call for help, but by the time avalanche dogs found his son several hours later, it was too late.
"Inside ski area boundaries, we have very dedicated ski patrols and snow safety teams that will work really hard to mitigate threats from avalanches inside ski area boundaries," Lazar said. "Just on the other side of that rope there is no one doing that work."
With more snow on the way, the danger isn’t letting up.
"You can expect dangerous avalanche conditions to persist into the next work week before things really start to stabilize," Lazar said.
Information about current avalanche conditions can be found on the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website.
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