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Avalanche danger increases as spring approaches

By Olivia Wilmsen, Multimedia Journalist, olivia.wilmsen@krdo.com
Published On: Mar 09 2014 06:46:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 09 2014 06:48:27 PM CDT
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The weekend forecast turned out be much better than the avalanche forecast. Several counties are under an avalanche warning including the front range, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Technology has come a long way to go backcountry skiing today.

"When you become buried, your partner can switch his over to where he's finding you,” said Mountain Chalet sales associate Phil Wortmann showing an avalanche beacon.

Wortmann is also a guide for Pikes Peak Alpine School.

"I lost a friend back in '09. And they were all experts, and they just took a little slough. He hit a tree and that was hit. The pros go down all the time,” he said. "Safety is always the first concern.”

It's definitely the first concern as spring quickly approaches.

"I canceled a snow climbing trip just yesterday because of the big heavy, wet snow yesterday on Pikes Peak,” said Wortmann. "So that wants to slide in a lot of places."

"It's definitely good to let people know where you're going. If you have a buddy, that's always a good safety back up,” said backcountry skier Mathew Holdt.

Here are a few other tips to avoid or handle an avalanche: have an escape; a place to go to the side, have a backup plan is case the conditions become too dangerous, and be prepared with tools ready at a moment's notice.

No matter how much safety equipment you bring with you, the most important thing to remember is to talk to an expert and use your best judgment.

"It's up to that person, their education. It's always going to be a danger in that kind of situation. It's for you to determine that specific site,” said Wortmann.

The Front Range is under a moderate avalanche warning while the Sangre De Cristo has considerable avalanche conditions.So be sure to do your homework before you head out the door.

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