Spring Avalanche Season Begins

Apr 9, 2014

Credit Photo by Dale Atkins/RECCO

This is the time of year when backcountry skiing CAN get less risky. After dire avalanche warnings throughout the winter season, spring turns are often safer. But that’s not always a guarantee.

   Blase Reardon is the Aspen area forecaster for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. He says the snowpack is in the middle of shifting from winter conditions, to spring corn, but that depends on the elevation of where someone wants to ski or board.

“Up high, it is still winter. It will be for a little while, particularly on colder, shadier slopes. Down low, it already it already has started to make that transition.”

Reardon is finishing his first winter season forecasting for the Roaring Fork Valley area… and he says backcountry travelers have already started spring season trips, tackling steeper, longer lines on mountains in the area. For skiers and riders getting in on current conditions, there are a few key warning signs for avoiding avalanches.

“I think the biggest thing is to look for places where conditions are out of the ordinary. Where you’re finding something that’s a little different. Those are the places where people can get into trouble.”

Like where there’s dense slabs of snow...or lots of wet snow on top of the snowpack. That’s where the transition from winter to spring conditions is moving extra fast, making the snow unstable, and more likely to slide in an avalanche.