Experts Talk Avalanche Safety
KREX News Room
MESA, Colo. - According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, in the last two weeks, two people have died in Colorado avalanches.
After several rounds of snow storms, officials say avalanche danger is still considerable in much of Western Colorado.
Experts say the biggest threat of an avalanche comes during back country skiing, but there are a few things that skiers can do that may save themselves or others if used when caught in an avalanche.
Rondo Buecheler has been on Powderhorn's Ski Patrol for the last 32 years and has been caught in two avalanches.
"Colorado has a history of having a weak base layer which makes avalanches possible on anything that's relatively steep and open," said Buecheler, Director of the ski patrol.
The Powderhorn staff mitigates inside the resort areas but there are many back country runs too.
"Since [those areas are] not controlled, it can slide at any time," said Buecheler.
He says the key is to come prepared before you find yourself in an avalanche situation.
"Anybody that leaves the area to go into the back country should have an avalanche transceiver or beacon, you should also have a set of probe poles and a shovel. Everybody in your group needs to carry this equipment," said Buecheler.
The poles and shovel are vital in helping find and dig someone out of an avalanche, but the beacon is what experts say should be close and readily available at all times to activate, and send out a signal, if you were to get buried under the snow.
"You want to get out there and find whoever is buried within five minutes because there's trauma involved and they're not breathing," said Buecheler.
Because of this urgency, knowing exactly how to use the tools without any hesitation is almost as important as heading out to the back country prepared.
Officials with the ski patrol also suggest checking out some of the new avalanche safety technology which include back packs that help you breathe under the snow, and those that inflate to keep you on top of the avalanche.