Social Distancing and Backcountry Travel:
We received our monthly newsletter from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center today and thought it prudent to share with those of you who might not receive it:
Social Distancing and the Backcountry: We hope you are handling this global issue as well as you can. As of right now, the backcountry is still open in the State of Colorado. This is not the case in other parts of the world. That being said, with ski areas closed and more people in the backcountry it is a good time for a reminder about backcountry avalanche safety.
- CAIC is still issuing daily avalanche safety products until further notice. With professional operations such as ski areas, cat ski operations, guide companies closed, the CAIC is missing a crucial source for observations. If you do go into the backcountry, please submit an observation via the web or mobile app. Even if all you have to report is that you did not see any avalanches or that you did not see any signs of instability, please take the time to send that important info! And of course, you can always choose to remain anonymous.
- Anytime you travel in the backcountry in Colorado when there is snow on the ground avalanches are possible.
- You should always travel with a partner. Both you and your partner should have an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and a probe and you should know how to use all of the equipment. If you are a snowmobiler your avalanche rescue gear should be carried on your person, not on your tunnel. You should turn your avalanche transceiver on and place it in its harness on your body or in a pant pocket, never in your jacket or backpack where you could accidentally remove it.
- You should always ride one at a time only exposing one person at a time to avalanche terrain (slopes steeper than about 30 degrees).
- Cracking and collapsing in the snowpack and recent avalanches are signs of instability. If you experience these conditions you should stick to lower angle terrain without any steeper slopes above you.
- Recent snow and wind increase the avalanche danger.
- You can always reduce your risk to dangerous avalanches by sticking to areas with a slope angle less than about 30 degrees with no locally connected steeper avalanche terrain above you.
The following are a couple more things to consider before heading into the backcountry during this global health pandemic.
- According to the Town of Breckenridge: “People who are not in Summit County should plan not to come into the county.” Resort and mountain communities across the state are echoing this; they do not want any nonessential visitors right now as they work to contain the COVID-19 virus, even if it snows.
- Please consider the first responders of our mountain communities during this time. Local hospitals and staff cannot handle extra injuries on top of their COVID-19 efforts.
- Per Vail Mountain Rescue Group: “Now that our ski resorts are closed our trailheads are seeing more skier/snowshoer/snowmobiler traffic than ever. PLEASE balance your desire to be in the backcountry against the stress that an outdoor-recreation-oriented 911 call can add to a community emergency response system that is dealing with a very real public health crisis.”
- We are not saying to not go into the backcountry, only asking you to please consider these things when thinking about your outdoor activities.
All Friends of CAIC events and the spring fundraising drive have been postponed indefinitely. If you still wish to support avalanche safety in Colorado, you can do so through the Link below.
We are also hoping that you will do what you can to support our retail, restaurant, and brewery partners. These businesses do so much for avalanche safety here in Colorado and now is a great time to give back to them. You can see a full list of our sponsors here: https://avalanche.state.co.us/donate/
From us here at Mountain Town Magazine, in Breckenridge, Colorado, we love our mountain town communities, our towns are taking shelter, some with direct orders from the government. We hope you are taking this with the utmost seriousness. We are trying to flatten the curve with intense social separation and keep the hospitals functioning as best as possible as more people become ill – and they are becoming ill. We love the snow too. Please stay informed. Also check here for official Colorado information: https://covid19.colorado.gov/
Sending Wishes of Health and Happiness to you all!
Stay in touch with Colorado’s mountain town communities: https://mtntownmagazine.com/
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