A snowboarder who became caught in a small avalanche on Quandary Peak on Saturday was not seriously injured, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, but the recreationist captured footage of the slide on video.
Around 11:30 a.m., the snowboarder triggered the small wet slide in the Quandary Couloir on the northernmost aspect of the mountain at about 12,500 feet, according to a Colorado Avalanche Information Center field report.
“Although quite scary because of the potential for injury taking a ride that long, fortunately for us it was a good outcome,” said Colorado Avalanche Information Center director Ethan Greene.
The slide echoes a recent pattern of small avalanches running long distances, Greene said, as warm weather softens snow causing it to slide longer distances over hard surfaces beneath. The snowboarder was able to deploy an air bag to stay on the surface of the slide, he said.
“You can push small wet avalanches in previously dry, recently wind-drifted snow,” the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said in a Facebook post linking to the video. “While most of these avalanches will be small in size and only several inches deep, in continuously steep terrain, a ride in one could produce a very bad outcome.”
The incident occurred the same day that another backcountry user died in an avalanche on Bald Mountain. Several other small avalanches triggered by backcountry users were reported to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center over the weekend as well.
Also at Quandary, a skier triggered another small avalanche in the Cristo Couloir but was uninjured, according to a Colorado Avalanche Information Center field report. The small wet slide “could have easily tripped up a skier,” according to the report, and it slid about 100 yards.
For those headed out in the backcountry, it is best practice this time of year to leave early in order to be at the bottom of the mountain by noon or earlier, Greene said, while also reminding backcountry users to travel with a partner and carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel.
Check the avalanche forecast before leaving, he added, and choose a route that matches the conditions.
“The good news is we’re sort of moving back and forth between moderate and low avalanche danger right now,” Greene said. “A lot of the avalanches we’re seeing are pretty small, but small avalanches can still be dangerous if they push you off a cliff.”