Summit Avalanche office opens up for the season |

Summit Avalanche office opens up for the season

BOB BERWYNsummit daily news

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

SUMMIT COUNTY – Local avalanche forecasters are back in business for the season, updating weather, snow and avalanche conditions for the mountains of Summit County every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. The bulletins are available on the local hotline at (970) 668-0600 about 3 p.m. on those days.The idea is to give a snapshot of conditions in a given area, roughly covering a triangle between Vail Pass, Hoosier Pass and Loveland Pass, Brad Sawtell said Friday, just as he wrapped up the latest forecast.

Sawtell toured at Vail Pass Friday morning and experienced plenty of collapsing snow, especially around tree line. Other observers reported shooting cracks in places, another sign of tension and instability in the pack. With plenty of freshly fallen snow and windy conditions up high, there is the potential for dangerous slides.The avalanche center was predicting up to 16 inches of additional snow Friday night into today. If those amounts materialize, it could result in a significant natural avalanche cycle, Sawtell said.Overall, the hazard rating is considerable, with areas of high danger above tree line on northeast to east aspects, meaning both triggered and natural releases are likely on wind-drifted slopes.

Sawtell said the Summit County avy center hopes to expand forecasts to four days per week, and would especially like to offer a weekend update on the hotline. But to do that, the office needs more funding, he added. A local fundraiser is in the works, but the office could use some community volunteer help to get events like that organized. Anyone with interest should call the Summit County Office directly at (970) 547-0056, or send an e-mail to That’s also the contact information for reporting any avalanche-related information, including visual observations of avalanches.

“People should definitely call or e-mail us with any information; good, bad, anything,” he added.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996 or at