avalanche

A large natural avalanche in the Tenmile Range.

Up to four people were reportedly caught in an avalanche in a steep couloir in Rocky Mountain National Park, prompting warnings from park officials of “significant” avalanche danger.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center described the slide in the couloir, which left the backcountry travelers unscathed, as “another piece of evidence that avalanche season is certainly not over.”

Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said multiple large avalanches were reported Saturday, including some near Emerald Lake, a popular hiking and snowshoing destination. In addition to the four carried in the slide reported by CAIC, three other people were caught in avalanches.

Patterson said park rangers were talking to the people involved, but no other details were available.

Patterson said avalanche danger in the park was significant, and backcountry visitors should stay away from steep, snow-covered terrain.

Bear Lake, which sits about 2 miles east of Emerald Lake, recorded 9 inches of new snow between Wednesday and Friday, according to data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Temperatures were high — between 22 and 42 degrees — making for heavy, wet snow sitting on top of frozen crust.

CAIC rated avalanche danger for the northern mountains Saturday as moderate. They warned of wet avalanches, especially as the temperature climbs and the clouds break up. These slides will be mostly small, “but we have seen a series of incidents this spring where small avalanches lead to close calls in steep serious terrain,” CAIC wrote.

Cracking and collapsing cornices are also a hazard.

Twitter: @lizmforster

Phone: 636-0193

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