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- February 14, 2012 at 8:09 pm #576382rky mtn srfrParticipant
I’ve been thinking about posting this checklist (my bookmarks) for a while, but sadly its taken another CO avy death to finally take the time to do this. I hope you guys create your own, and use all of the knowledge and current information you can get to make decisions which lead to fun and safe tours!
If you’re on the Front Range and thinking of heading into avalanche terrain, hopefully you’ll bookmark these sights and visit them regularly if you’re not already doing so. Even if you’re not on the Front Range, you can still put a similar checklist together. Afterall, our preparation for backcountry travelling should start long before you put your beacon on.
Longterm planning starts with snow forcast predictions. I review forcasts for Eldora, Loveland, and Winter Park regularly by using multiple sites:
CAIC daily weather forcasts, http://avalanche.state.co.us/pub_bc_avo.php?zone_id=1
and actual NWS from Loveland, http://www.skiloveland.com/themountain/reports/Weather.aspx
(Add any other forcasting site you like to this list.)
As the 24 hour pre-trip window opens, I rely on multiple sources for exact weather info/snow/avy reports to make my final decision. (I never have a set-in-stone plan, but instead multiple plans to accomodate weather changes, group dynamics, and avy forcasts.) These sites are local for my Front Range touring, and I check these almost every day and sometimes 2 or 3 times a day.
Eldora snow report, http://www.eldora.com/mountain.snow.php
Loveland snow report, http://www.skiloveland.com/themountain/reports/snowreport.aspx
Winterpark snow report, http://www.winterparkresort.com/mountain/snow-report/
statewide snow report, http://www.coloradoski.com/snow-report
CAIC backcountry forcast, http://avalanche.state.co.us/index.php
CAIC user observations, http://avalanche.state.co.us/obs/field_report.php
CAIC live weather stations, http://avalanche.state.co.us/obs_stns/stns.php
and of course the splitboard Colorado conditions section, viewforum.php?f=26
Lastly, communicating with friends who have recently been in similar zones, and even talking to people in the parking lot to pick their brain on the zone can produce valuable information too.
Be safe out there!February 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm #651764RioLeoOneParticipant
Thanks RMS. Bookmarked!
I use http://www.snow-forecast.com/ too as it has a little bit more color on time of day, altitude, and consolidates wind direction. Very similar to the one without a dash in the middle but presented in a different format…I don’t have the full version though and Im very new to this stuff too so Im still trying to interpret what all this means.
To your last point, ride anywhere lately? Any observations you can share?
Ive been outta the country for a month but am getting back this weekend. Curious what the conditions have been like in my stomping grounds…February 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm #651765aksltxltParticipant
Dont forget to travel with partners that have all the avy gear and KNOW how to use it, Powder fever will get you and the group into trouble so trust your own judgements on snow safety.February 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm #651766PedroDelfuegoParticipant
Everyone who goes into the backcountry on Colorado needs a COSAR card too!February 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm #651767rky mtn srfrParticipant
I spent 3 days prior to the Thursday/Friday (2/22 & 23) storm learning a new zone in James Peak Wilderness, east facing trees near and below treeline- probably my new favorite zone for tree skiing. Powder turns in trees were VERY good. Lot’s of visible loading/slab formation above treeline, so much that I wouldn’t dare get above treeline just yet. Considering the wind event after our last storm, I’d guess most everything except a few dangerous protected pockets is pretty wind hammered now. I also made it up to Loveland ski area Thursday morning despite most of i70 being closed, and it was pretty damn awesome.
Markus Beck posted an observation from James Peak Wilderness last Monday, and he noted signs of instability in the Crater Lakes area. The Crater Lakes zone below treeline has a lot of benchy dangerous micro terrain features, so it’s not surprising. I’ve experienced a lot of those instabilities (cracking, fractures, large whumpfing in years past there too.
Interestingly, I was on the same aspect/elevation and not far from him but got no signs if instability. Still gotta give the area some serious respect when slope angles get high though.
I’m playing the waiting game for stability to get better before I start venturing above treeline. Sounds like there were plenty of naturals and artificial avy’s in the Front Range, and Colorado for that matter, over the weekend. Not surprising.
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