According to a report posted on the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website, a hiker has been injured by an avalanche in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The accident is listed as occurring earlier this week, a result of big snow that fell on October 14.
The hiker was south of South Arapaho Peak, hiking from the 4th of July trailhead on Arapaho Pass and Arapaho Glacier trails reaching an altitude of 11,500 feet. With the big blast of recent snow in the area, snow drifts were a problem, resulting in the hiker opting to descend off trail to avoid deeper pockets of powder. In doing so, the hiker triggered an avalanche after falling through roughly four feet of snow. While most of the slide occurred beside the hiker, the hiker did report being swept over multiple 10 to 15 foot cliffs as he was carried an estimated 150 feet down an extremely steep, rocky slope.
The hiker was able to self-rescue, left with a fractured pelvis among other minor injuries.
Thankfully, nothing worse happened with this first avalanche incident report of the winter season. It sounds like it could have quickly turned into a much more serious situation.
This is a good reminder that early season can be prime time for avalanche risks as snow tends to drop and melt before more snow drops, which can result in a layering effect. When snow is layered on steep slopes with different consistency, top layers can slide off of those beneath them. While it’s undetermined whether or not this hiker had avy training, if you’re not trained to analyze avalanche risk levels, it’s best you stay off of snowy slopes in unmaintained areas. As always, make every effort to stay the trail, as this will generally be the safest place for you to be.
Here’s more information about why you should consider taking an avalanche awareness class this year.
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