Avalanche danger has climbed to a high level for Summit County, Vail area and Front Range mountains after storms | SummitDaily.com

Avalanche danger has climbed to a high level for Summit County, Vail area and Front Range mountains after storms

Officials say backcountry travelers need to be conservative in where they choose to go into late this week

By JESSE PAUL / The Denver Post

Aspen resident Sam Rittgers takes a few turns on the recent snowfall at Loveland Pass in October.

Avalanche danger has climbed to a high level in the Vail area, Summit County and Front Range mountains after a series of holiday-weekend snowstorms that pounded the high county.

"Localized, heavier-than-expected snowfall and strong winds have resulted in a rapid increase in the avalanche danger particularly in areas east of Vail Pass," the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said in a bulletin Monday. "Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist in all above treeline areas. Travel in and below avalanche terrain is not recommended at this time."

Avalanche forecasters say the snowpack is weak after an extended period of dry conditions and warm weather followed by the powerful storms that slammed into Colorado on Saturday and were expected to taper off late Christmas Day.

"It is not a matter of if we will see larger avalanches," the CAIC forecasters said. "It is really a matter of exactly how much new and wind-deposited snow it will take to tip the balance. It is time to pay attention to the potential for larger avalanches on all steep slopes. Dangerous avalanche conditions will continue to exist as long as we see daily small, incremental loads to the snowpack."

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