Avey outreach planned at Loveland Pass | SummitDaily.com

Avey outreach planned at Loveland Pass

BOB BERWYNsummit daily news
Special to the Daily Skiing on Loveland Pass can cause avalanches, like this one caused in the spring of 2005.

SUMMIT COUNTY – The backcountry around 11,990-foot Loveland Pass can be as deadly as it is beautiful, with avalanche-prone slopes running down from nearly every ridge and peak.”I think one of the key things is when you’re up there and you look around 360 degrees, there have been serious accidents (and several deaths) on a lot of those slopes,” said Dale Atkins, a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

The high level of recreational use and the skein of serious accidents dating back decades is one reason local and state avalanche experts have targeted Loveland Pass for an outreach session this Saturday. CAIC forecasters, A-Basin ski patrollers and U.S. Forest Service snow rangers will spend the day at the pass, informally talking with backcountry travelers to spread a safety message.

During a similar session last year, the Forest Service found that less than half the people they contacted were equipped with essential avalanche gear, including beacons, shovels and probes. Atkins said that percentage probably represents the overall pattern in the Colorado backcountry, a frightening statistic, considering that rescuers often put their own safety at risk after a serious accident.

“Over on the Clear Creek County side, the north and west side, every winter people get caught in close calls,” Atkins said. “One of these winters, someone’s luck is going to run out.”Deadly accidents around the pass include a 1991 avalanche in the vicinity of Grizzly Peak, when a sledder was killed, and another deadly slide in 1989, very near the summit of the pass.

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