Control work triggers three slides in Breckenridge’s Horseshoe Bowl | SummitDaily.com

Control work triggers three slides in Breckenridge’s Horseshoe Bowl

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily news

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge’s snow safety team triggered three avalanches in Peak 8’s Horseshoe Bowl Saturday, sending piles of snow cascading down the steep slope into a huge debris pile.The slides, which are visible from Highway 9, measured about 1,500 feet in width and anywhere from 4 feet to 12 feet in depth, said Breckenridge Ski Patrol director Kevin Ahern.In some places, the snow cracked all the way to the surface, he added. The bowl was closed to the public at the time, and the blasts that caused the large slide were part of the snow team’s regular avalanche-control work.

The bowl opened on Dec. 2, when the resort already had about seven feet of snow near the top of the mountain. Every day, snow team members were out in the bowl before the terrain was opened to the public, monitoring the snowpack, digging snow pits or detonating explosives to ensure it was safe, Ahern said.”I know that those guys were thinking about that area a lot and paying a lot of attention to it,” Ahern said.

Horseshoe Bowl, which has a pitch somewhere in the mid-30-degree range, Peak 7 and the Lake Chutes are all slide paths that see daily attention because they get substantial windloading that adds weight even without having much snow, Ahern said.According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, there have been a few slides in the central mountains over the last several days, but the deepest releases have been reported here in the northern mountains because of high snow levels and strong wind at high elevations.”While there haven’t been any fresh avalanches there in the last couple of days, the combination of slab and facets can’t be trusted on steep terrain,” the report said.

In general, Breckenridge has been doing more avalanche control work than normal for this time of year because of the unusually large early season snowfall tallies, Ahern said. Breckenridge had received about 11 feet of snow by Dec. 10.Horseshoe Bowl will remain closed until enough snow falls to cover the exposed rocks and ski patrollers deem the area safe, Ahern said.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com.