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Tickets for CSAW go up in Price Sunday, Attend this Avalanche Workshop Sign Up and Learn

Now is the time to purchase your $25 ticket for CSAW. Ticket price increases to $40 on Sunday.
WHY ATTEND CSAW?

The Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop is a one-day professional development seminar for people working and recreating in and around avalanche terrain. It provides a venue to listen to presentations and discuss new ideas, techniques and technologies in avalanche research and field work.

The 2018 Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop will feature a diverse set of speakers covering topics from the effects of climate change on our snowpack to the history of the Colorado Department of Transportation avalanche mitigation program.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE & PURCHASE YOUR TICKET

Whether you are a ski patroller, avalanche forecaster, road maintenance personnel, ski guide, avalanche educator, student, applied researcher, or backcountry user, we hope you can join us!

Want to give back?
Consider donating to Friends of CAIC! Your gift supports CAIC’s backcountry forecasting program and avalanche education throughout Colorado.
Donate Now
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It’s getting to that time of you, Donate and Sign Up to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center

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SEPTEMBER 2018 ISSUE |Looking back
The monthly dump is back for the 2018 – 2019 season! We could not be more excited for the upcoming winter season. But first, let’s take a look back at how last season shaped up and the events we have to kick off this fall.
2017-2018 Season Review
The 2017-18 avalanche season in Colorado was characterized by a stark north-south gradient in total snowfall, and warm, wet storms punctuating prolonged dry spells. In portions of the Central and Southern Mountains, it was one of the driest winters in the last 40 years. Our Northern Mountains fared better, with some areas quietly sneaking in a decent season with near or even slightly above median annual snowfall. Rain as high as 12,000 feet and several dust events made many us of wonder how winter might look in the future.

There were approximately 2200 avalanches reported to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). CAIC documented 35 incidents, with 45 people caught and three killed – less than the 10-year mean of six fatalities per season. The numbers are likely affected by a shortened snowpack season, particularly in our Southern Mountains, that had long stretches with little avalanche hazard due to poor snow coverage.

An early October storm dropped enough snow at higher elevations to persist through a pronounced fall/early 12de65a6-ef64-465b-97da-07a339ae0f8a.jpgwinter drought. A thick foundation of depth hoar developed across much of the state. This layer plagued us for the remainder of the season. We received four “storms” during this drought period with very little snow accumulating prior to Thanksgiving. Each of these storms was followed by extended dry periods of at least a week. Our first close call occurred right after one of these modest loading events on November 18, when a snowboarder near Aspen was caught, carried, and partially buried. Fortunately, he walked away with no major injuries.

The longest period without significant snowfall was from November 18 to just before Christmas. During this five-week dry spell, the snowpack around the state dropped to less than 75% of long-term median, with some areas in the Central and Southern Mountains in the single digits. A “Christmas storm” finally brought snow we could measure in feet. Our snowpack did not handle this test well, and we saw our first, and in hindsight, most widespread avalanche cycle of the season. This pattern – mid to late-month storms interrupting dry periods and leading to avalanche cycles – continued into April. The avalanches in each cycle failed on the facet layer that developed during the early-season drought

The first fatality of the season occurred right after the mid-January storm in the San Juan Mountains near Silverton. Two backcountry skiers were caught and partially buried after venturing into terrain they planned to avoid. One did not survive.

February was the snowiest month of the season for the entire state, accounting for a large percentage of snowfall for the entire season. In some locations in the Southern Mountains, February snowfall amounted to around half of the season’s snowfall. Not surprisingly, we also had a lot of associated avalanche activity, and 6bc68772-ea3a-4929-9ee2-6181cc2ef830.jpga little over one third of all avalanche incidents occurred during this one month. The month’s incidents include a solo skier near Berthoud Pass who was caught, carried, and sustained injuries, and a skier near Vail Pass who was partially buried and suffered serious injuries requiring hospitalization.

Mid-February storms produced a remarkably sustained cycle of large and very large avalanches, with D2.5 or larger slides nearly every day for over a week in some locations. The cycle left many professionals searching their memories to recall such a long-lived cycle of avalanches breaking to the ground with very small loads or even just a minor uptick in wind transport.

March was mostly warm and dry. Warm, spring-time temperatures brought a few days of small wet avalanches throughout March, but we didn’t get a pronounced Wet Slab avalanche cycle until later in the season. Storms in the latter half of the month brought rain to 11,000 ft. We had several close calls during the month, but entered April with hopes of finishing the season with only one tragic avalanche fatality.

It was not to be. One of the season’s largest storms arrived on April 6, delivering ample heavy, wet snow over the next three days. Snow-water-equivalent was up to 4 inches of water with 2 to 3 feet of snow in the favored locations. We observed rain close to 12,000 feet at the tail end of the storm. This was an unusual 3d5c6435-0395-4d04-b2ae-a8224207926f.jpgevent, and two fatalities occurred in the three-day period right after the storm lifted. On closing day for Aspen Highlands (April 8), a member of the local Search and Rescue group was caught, carried, and killed in the backcountry adjacent to the ski area. An avalanche warning was in effect at the time of accident. On April 10, snowmobilers near Breckenridge triggered an avalanche that broke on the early-season, basal facets. The victim was fully buried and killed. He was wearing a beacon, but it was not turned on. It was sobering to enter the final stretches of the season with two more tragic accidents, each of which has take-home lessons that are too familiar. A number of Wet Slab avalanches followed later in April and into May.

On the education front, the CAIC and Friends of CAIC continued the Know Before You Go program statewide. Combined with our other educational programs, CAIC staff and trained instructors across the state conducted around 150 education events and reached approximately 6300 students. We look forward to improving and expanding these programs for next season.

Lastly – Thank you for your past support and in advance for your continued support. Together we can achieve our strategic goals and continue to build the best avalanche forecast center Colorado has ever seen.

Upcoming Events
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Mountain Meteorology Workshop

Tuesday – Thursday, Sept. 11-13
Colorado Mountain College, Leadville
Click here to learn more and purchase your ticket.

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Bentgate’s Ski Season Kickoff Party

Thursday, Oct. 4
American Mountaineering Center, Golden
Click hereto learn more and purchase your ticket.

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Colorado Snow & Avalanche Workshop

Friday, October 5
Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge
Click hereto learn more and purchase your ticket.

Want to give back?
Consider donating to Friends of CAIC! Your gift supports CAIC’s backcountry forecasting program and avalanche education throughout Colorado. Help us help you stay safe.
Donate Now
Copyright © 2018 Friends of Colorado Avalanche Information Center, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address
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PO BOX 267
Grand Junction, CO 81502

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American Avalanche Association is offering 2 Scholarships to the International Snow Science in Austria

 

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August 20, 2018

A3 is pleased to announce the availability of two scholarships for A3 Members to attend the ISSW this October, 2018 in Innsbruck, Austria. Each scholarship will include conference registration and a $500 stipend to defray travel expenses.

Details:

  • One scholarship will be awarded to a student, and the other to a practitioner. Please note that one must apply as either a student or a practitioner, but not both.
  • Interested parties should submit a 250-500 word essay explaining how they would put the scholarship to good use.
  • A3 President John Stimberis will select the winners in consultation with the A3 board.
  • Scholarship recipients will be required to either write an article for The Avalanche Review or make a presentation at an A3 supported Snow and Avalanche Workshop. Recipients will be strongly encouraged to provide at least 2 social media posts during the conference.

Dates and Deadlines:

  • Interested parties should submit their essays to Dan Kaveney at dan by August 29, 2018 at 5 PM MDT.
  • Recipients will be notified by September 5, 2018.

Thanks to our major sponsors for making ISSW Sponsorship and this scholarship possible.

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Colorado Snowpack is Extremely Dangerous and getting Worse

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FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE |Large & Dangerous
We Have a Deep Problem
After a dry start to the winter, the snowpack in the Colorado mountains is rapidly increasing. The increase in snow over the last few weeks is building a thick slab on top of a weak foundation. This weak layer of snow that sits near the ground has been producing avalanches for most of the winter. With a thicker slab, the avalanches are now much larger. Avalanches are breaking at the ground and are hundreds, sometimes more than a thousand, feet wide. If you get caught, it will be hard to survive.

These are very large Persistent and Deep Persistent Slab avalanches. These types of avalanches are especially dangerous as you may not see the usual signs of unstable snow that you rely on: shooting cracks, rumbling collapses or recent avalanches. The only way to stay safe from these avalanches is to avoid terrain over 30 degrees in the areas that can produce these types of destructive avalanches. The snowpack this winter is unlike the past few winters. The steep slope that you rode safely last season or last month, may now be dangerous.

This is an important time to take a step back and carefully consider the terrain you want to ride. These conditions could last for the rest of the winter. Many of the big avalanche paths that you see in Colorado were formed during avalanche years like this one. Watch the video below and share with your friends. Always get the forecast before you head into the backcountry.

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Cheers to CAIC with Coffee!
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There is nothing better than a hot cup of coffee before, during and after your backcountry ventures! Bivouac Coffee is our official coffee partner for the 2017-2018 season! When you purchase their delicious coffee beans you are directly supporting your avalanche center.

10% of all Bivouac Coffee purchases support avalanche awareness and forecasting throughout Colorado.

Let’s cheers to that! Visit Bivouac Coffee’s website today.

Upcoming Events
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Down for Change!

Sunday, March 4
Breckenridge Ski Resort
How many vertical feet can you ski or ride in a day? Take part in this competition and benefit CAIC while doing it! Learn more by clicking here.

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On-Snow Pop Up!

Saturday, March 3
Location TBD
Join Friends of CAIC and Bivouac Coffee at one of the popular backcountry trailheads along I-70 for some coffee, swag and more. Check back in soon for more information!

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WP Beers & Cheers

Sunday, March 18
Hideaway Park Brewery, Winter Park
Coming at you, Winter Park! Join us for beers and cheers in support of your avalanche center. Check back in soon for more information!

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Party for a Purpose

Saturday, March 24
Highlands Alehouse, Aspen
Mark your calendars, Aspen! The party you love is back thanks to Strafe Outerwear. Check back in soon for more information!

Featured Follower
Tag us for a chance to be featured!
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“Breaking on through to the weekend. Plenty of new snow and hidden dangers in the backcountry so be safe. Know b4 you go!”
– JJ, @peter_deepinpow
Want to Give Back?
Whether you use the CAIC forecasts every day or once a year, please consider making a donation to support avalanche forecasting and education in Colorado. A donation of even $10 helps us continue to improve our programs. Please donate today and support your avalanche center.
Donate Now
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Backcountry skier sues in Small Claims Court in San Miguel County Colorado for injuries she received when a backcountry snowboarder triggered an Avalanche that injured her.

The defendant snowboarder had agreed not to descend the slope until the lower parties had called and told them they had cleared the area. The defendant failed to wait and admitted he had triggered the Avalanche.

BEFORE COMMENTING READ EVERYTHING. I WAS NOT THE ATTORNEY FOR EITHER PARTY IN THIS CASE. The defendant in his comments about this article made that statement that I was the plaintiff’s attorney. He was the one in court, not me. How he made that mistake I don’t know. But Sober Up!

State: Colorado, San Miguel Small Claims Court

Plaintiff: Jayleen Troutwin

Defendant: Christopher Parke

Plaintiff Claims: Negligence

Defendant Defenses:

Holding: for the plaintiff

Year: 2017

Facts

Under Colorado law, you can create a duty when you agree to act or not act. Here the defendant created a duty when he agreed not to descend the slope until he had received a phone call from the first party that they had cleared the danger area.

This is a first of its kind suit that I have found, and the judge’s decision in this case is striking in its clarity and reasoning. At the same time, it might open up backcountry injuries to more litigation. The facts that created this lawsuit are specific in how the duty was created, and that will be rare in 90% of the backcountry accidents.

I have attached the written decision of the court to this analysis, and I encourage you to read it.

Facts: taken from the complaint, the CAIC Report and The Order of Judgment

The plaintiff was skiing out of bounds in Bear Creek outside of the Telluride Ski Area. While skiing they ran into the defendant and his friend. The defendant and friend were not ready to go, so the plaintiff and friend took off. The plaintiff and friend stated they would call the defendant when they were out of the danger zone at the bottom of the chute they both intended to ski.

The defendant and his friend did not wait, and triggered an avalanche. Plaintiff was still repelling when the avalanche hit her sweeping her off the rappel, and she fell 1200 feet down the slope riding the avalanche. She survived on top of the snow with several injuries.

The defendant admitted that it was his fault, and he would pay for the plaintiff’s medical bills. He made one payment and no others. The Plaintiff’s medical bills were in excess of $50,000. However, she still skied out after the incident.

The plaintiff sued the defendant in Small Claims Court. Small Claims court is for parties without attorneys, and the judge can grant a maximum of $7500.00 in damages.

Analysis: making sense of the law based on these facts.

Normally, participants in sporting or outdoor recreation events assume the risks inherent in the sport. Avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing. The Colorado Supreme Court has stated that in Colorado Supreme Court rules that an inbounds Avalanche is an inherent risk assumed by skiers based upon the Colorado Skier Safety Act.

Under most circumstances, the plaintiff in this situation would have assumed the risk of her injuries. What sets this decision apart was the agreement at the top of the mountain between the two groups of people. One group agreed not to descend into the chute until the other group had cleared the chute.

This creates an assumed duty on the part of the defendant. By agreeing to the acts, the plaintiff assumed a duty to the defendant.

The assumed duty doctrine “must be predicated on two factual findings.” “A plaintiff must first show that the defendant, either through its affirmative acts or through a promise to act, undertook to render a service that was reasonably calculated to prevent the type of harm that befell the plaintiff.” “Second, a plaintiff must also show either that he relied on the defendant to perform the service or that defendant’s undertaking increased plaintiff’s risk.”

This assumed duty was done specifically to prevent injuries to the other skiers. The skiers also relied on this agreement when they skied down the slope.

This Court, therefore, finds that the Defendant assumed a duty of care in agreeing not to ski his chosen route while Troutwin and Hope were still skiing theirs in an effort to avoid a skier-triggered avalanche.

Thus, when the defendant started down the chute, he violated the agreed to duty of care to the skiers below them.

The next issue to prove negligence in this case is causation or proximate causation. The breach of the duty by the defendant must be related to the injury the plaintiff received. The court simply found but for the actions of the defendant, the injuries of the plaintiff would not have occurred.

The defendant admitted triggering the avalanche, and the avalanche is what swept the plaintiff off the rappel.

The defendant raised two defenses at trial. Comparative Negligence and Assumption of Risk.

Comparative negligence asks, “did the actions of the plaintiff create or expose the plaintiff to an unreasonable risk of harm?” Comparative negligence is applied to reduce the damages the plaintiff might receive if both parties are at fault in causing the injuries to the plaintiff.

The defendant argued the plaintiff assumed the risk of her injuries and was a partial cause of her injuries when she did not use a backup device on her rappel.

The court looked at the failure to use a backup system on rappel as the same as failing to wear a seatbelt in a car or failing to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Both have been determined by the Colorado Supreme Court to not be a component contributing to comparative negligence.

The reasoning behind this is simple. The plaintiff should not be required to determine in advance the negligence of any third party. Meaning it is not the injured parties’ duty, in advance to determine and then deal with any possible negligence of any other person. If that was the case, you could never leave the house because you never guessed what injury you might have received.

…[f]irst, a defendant should not diminish the consequences of his negligence by the failure of the injured party to anticipate defendant’s negligence in causing the accident itself. Second, a defense premised on an injured party’s failure to wear a protective helmet would result in a windfall to tortfeasors who pay only partially for the harm their negligence caused. Third, allowing the defense would lead to a veritable battle of experts as to what injuries would have or have not been avoided had the plaintiff been wearing a helmet.

The court found that neither comparative negligence, nor assumption of the risk applied to these facts and were not a defense to the plaintiff’s claims.

The court also added a section to its opinion about the future of backcountry skiing and the Policy issues this decision might create. It is well-written and worth quoting here.

51. This Court has determined that Parke’s duty of care is a result of his express assumption of that duty, rather than broader policy concerns that are typically addressed in protracted discussions of legal duty. It is nevertheless, worth noting that given the increasing popularity of backcountry skiing and skiing into Bear Creek, in particular, the risk of skiers triggering avalanches above one-another is likely increasing. In situations where skiers have no knowledge of whether a group is below, the legal outcome of an accident may be different than the result reached here. A liability rule that thus encourages skiers to avoid investigating whether their descent might pose a risk to those below feels averse to sound public policy. Communication and coordination between groups of backcountry skiers is surely good practice.

52. But meaningful communication is not necessarily impossible in these circumstances. This Court is swayed by the availability of radios like that which Troutwin and Hope carried. These radios are a communication option that appears more reliable than cellular telephones. Perhaps if they become more prevalent, more communication between parties will take place. And it follows and is foreseeable that other communications platforms or safety standards will develop to address this specific risk. The liability rule discussed here does not necessarily foreclose those developments.

53. The ethics and liability rules associated with backcountry skiing are likely to continue to evolve as its popularity increases and safety standards emerge. The law is likely to continue to evolve in kind.

It is refreshing to see a judge look at the broader aspect of his or her decision as it applies to an evolving sport.

The court found that the plaintiff suffered $9,660.00 in damages. The jurisdictional limit a Colorado Small Claims court can issue is a maximum of $7,500.00, which is the amount the plaintiff was awarded.

So Now What?

If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you say you are going to wait, wait. It is that simple.

More importantly, litigation has now entered the realm of backcountry skiing. Will it create more litigation, probably? Backcountry skiers who have no health insurance or no income while they recover will be looking for a way to get hospital bill collectors off their phone and pizza coming to the front door. Worse, health insurance companies will look at a way through their subrogation clauses to try to recover the money they pay out on behalf of their insureds.

At the same time, based upon these facts, the defendant was the sole cause of the plaintiff’s injuries not because he triggered an avalanche, but because he agreed not to trigger an avalanche.

Documents Attached:

Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for a Trial.   

Answer

Trial Exhibits 1 through 9

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 4

Exhibit 5

Exhibit 6

Exhibit 7

Exhibit 8

Exhibit 9

Order of Judgment

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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CAIC Benefit Bash raised over $100K, save the date for 2018 December 1, 2018

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DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE |What a Bash!
Decade Deep : A Recap
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The 10th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash raised $118,640.99 for avalanche forecasting and education in Colorado!

What a Bash. This event would not have been possible without the 125 incredibly generous sponsors, 70 hard working volunteers, 6 breweries that donated delicious beer, and the Summit County restaurant community that fed all1,200 of us. We are especially thankful for all of you that joined us and helped us break our fundraising record once again. To view photos from the party, click here for our Facebook photo album. Photos provided by the talented Rebecca Wissman.

SAVE THIS DATE:
Saturday, December 1st, 2018
11th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash
“Up to 11”
Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge

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Friends of CAIC Launch Version 2 of the CAIC Mobile App!

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We are proud to announce that we have launched version 2 of our mobile app for both Android and Apple devices. We could not have done this without our partnership with The North Face.The mobile app project aligns directly with our effort to make the avalanche forecasts easily accessible across a variety of platforms. Version 2 of the mobile app optimizes the daily zone avalanche forecasts for all 10 zones across Colorado. Our focus for version 2 was an updated user interface that provided a cleaner path to the avalanche forecast, danger ratings, and zone weather tables.

Our partnership with The North Face merges technology with a common goal to provide avalanche information to our incredible community of backcountry users. We are excited to continually update the app to provide additional resources and tools.

Download the latest version here:
Android
Apple

2017 Annual Report
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Over the past year the Friends of CAIC and CAIC have made great strides in building the best avalanche center possible.

Your donations continue to drive and improve our programs for backcountry forecasting and education throughout Colorado. You can see more in our FY2017 Annual Report by clicking here.

Want to give back?
Whether you use the CAIC forecasts every day or once a year, please consider making a year-end donation to support avalanche forecasting and education in Colorado. A donation of even $25 helps us continue to improve our programs. Please donate today and support your avalanche center.
Donate Now
Upcoming Events
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Backcountry Brains

Sunday, January 7
Grab your smartest friends and join Friends of CAIC and Breckenridge Distillery for an apres snow trivia party! Learn more by clicking here.

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Monarch Backcountry Day

Saturday, January 13
Mark your calendars for what will be a fun backcountry awareness and demo day at Monarch! More information coming soon.

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BV Backcountry Day

Saturday, January 21
The Trailhead, Buena Vista
Demos of ALL KINDS: Skis, splitboards, cross-country, snowshoes, fat bikes…plus a killer after-party. All proceeds benefit the CAIC. Learn more by clicking here.

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16th Annual Beacon Bowl

Saturday, February 3
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
It’s back! Beacon search competitions, avy search dogs, apres party – what more can you ask for? Learn more by clicking here.

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“Epic weekend in the mountains with Backcountry Babes and some new adventure-loving friends for my AIARE 1. We learned about avalanche safety, following our intuition, companion rescue, the mechanics of snowpack, and so much more! Can’t wait to continue learning and practicing these skills in the mountains this winter!”
– Kim Allen, @kimexplorescolorado

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10th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash – Get your tickets now!

Tickets are selling quickly. Do you have yours?

Join the Friends of CAIC on Saturday, December 2, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge and support the CAIC in their continued efforts in avalanche forecasting and education throughout Colorado. Get your tickets now before they sell out.

Saturday, December 2
10th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash
Breckenridge Riverwalk Center
5:00pm – 10:00pm
Tickets and more information: https://adecadedeep.eventbrite.com

Here are few things you have to look forward to:

We look forward to seeing you on December 2!