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Avalanche season is here, with weak layers building up in snow banks in Colorado's backcountry

Avalanche season is here, weak layers being built in Colorado's backcountry
Avalanche season is here, weak layers being built in Colorado's backcountry 02:18

If you clicked on this article, you've likely already been to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's homepage this season looking for updates to current conditions.

The amount of snow we are working with is much as you would expect this season with only two major snowstorms to speak of for most of Colorado, and that's partially where some of the problems are coming in.

Within the three or so weeks that Colorado's high country was mostly dry between the late October snowstorm and the most current Thanksgiving snowstorm, the snow that had already fallen was transforming into a weak, wimpy snow base which can cause issues for skiers and riders in the back country down the line. 

"In a perfect world, once it started snowing, it would continue to snow on a really regular basis," Brian Lazar, deputy director of CAIC said. "Missing a day or two of snowfall or even, you know, several days isn't the end of the world...but what we had was not great."

Avalanches in Colorado: How do they occur? 02:26

Eleven people have already been caught in avalanche activity in the 2023-2024 season so far, and thankfully no fatalities have been reported, and barely any injuries. Still, CAIC said just because others have been lucky doesn't mean you can hit the slopes without knowing what you're doing and how much risk you will take depending on where you're headed. 

"We can reduce our risk from triggering avalanches by either skiing on other aspects like South and West, which didn't harbor all that early season snow, or you can always ski the slopes less than about 30 degrees in steepness without overhead hazard," Lazar said. 

As for the weak snow layer, Lazar said that's just how it goes, but for people to keep an eye on the cycle of snowstorm/dry spell/ snowstorm and make sure they see the pattern too. 

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