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Yet despite the warnings, and reports of caution by the victims, five snow riders, on both split boards and skis, died on a slope of Mt. Sniktau, just east of the Loveland Pass, about 88km west of Denver. They were at or above treeline.
It was the most avalanche fatalities in any one incident in Colorado since 1962. However, higher death tolls were recorded several times during the mining era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Earlier in the week, another snowboarder had died on Ptarmigan Mountain east of Red Cliff and a few kilometres from Vail Pass. That slab avalanche was reported by the CACI to be three-metres deep, and it broke trees seven to 10 centimetres in diameter.
After the two cases, avalanche forecaster Spencer Logan told The Denver Post that Colorado is seeing the worst avalanche danger in 30 years.
Dale Atkins, president of the American Avalanche Association, helped in the rescue near Loveland Pass. "This would be a slope that looks like a lot of fun for good riders," he told The Post. "But the conditions this spring are unusual, and unusual conditions result in unusual avalanches. You really need to dial it back this spring."
Caribou plans would crimp access
JASPER, Alberta — Parks Canada proposes to close about 18 per cent of Jasper National Park during winter months to backcountry users with the goal of helping improve the odds for the 71 caribou remaining. But at least one company in Jasper that offers guided access to those backcountry areas feels put off.
"Backcountry users are being vilified," said Gilbert Wall, of Tonquin Valley Adventures. "There is a realization from me, particularly, that caribou are worth saving, but the conversation is dismal right now," he told Jasper's Fitzhugh newspaper. "It's 'people bad, caribou good.'" He said the proposed closings could be the last nail in the coffin for his business adding that the federal agency is continuously shortening his season and implementing new operation conditions that add costs.
The hypothesis behind the closures seems to be that backcountry users compact the snow, allowing predatory wolves to more easily gain proximity to caribou.
Layla Neufeld, a wildlife biologist with Parks Canada, says the trail-aided predation is not the only threat to woodland caribou, but it must be addressed.
"There are a lot of things that are important to caribou ecology, and we need to do everything at this point, because the situation is quite desperate." she said.