Mount Royal slide buries trail |

Mount Royal slide buries trail

FRISCO – A chute above historic Masontown gave way, and avalanche forecasts signal grave danger for those hiking into the Tenmile Range.

Reports of slides in the vicinity of Peak One started around March 6, said Scott Toepfer, a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Creekside Inn owner Vince Pierse said the slide path informally known as the “J chute” likely slid in the past two days. Pierse hikes the Mount Royal trail to Masontown about three times a week. He found a surprise at the top Tuesday.

“It gets kind of steep toward the top, so I was looking down,” Pierse said. “All of a sudden, I said, “Where did the trail go?’ The slide had covered it about eight or nine feet deep. I worry, because it’s a pretty popular trail.”

Pierse said a nearby chute looked “loaded and ready to go.”

Toepfer said warm weather could be complicating avalanche danger. While higher temperatures often reduce slide danger, recent spring-like conditions might be stiffening and strengthening slabs without changing the underlying weakness in snowpack.

“I don’t think the instabilities are going away,” he said.

Four people have died in avalanches in Colorado this winter.

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