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SAR teams warn of dangerous snow conditions

Search and Rescue Teams Warn of Treacherous Snow Conditions on Colorado 14ers

LAKE COUNTY, COLORADO – Lake County Search and Rescue (LCSAR) responded to two separate calls on Mount Massive and Mount Elbert yesterday, emphasizing the ongoing challenges posed by significant snow cover on high-elevation trails.

Despite the appearance of dry, clear trails in Colorado’s front range, conditions on the state’s famous 14er routes remain dangerous due to lingering snow. The recent rescues highlight the risks of postholing, navigation difficulties, and the lack of essential gear.

Key Takeaways from LCSAR:

  1. Pack the 10 Essentials: Ensure you have flotation devices like snowshoes or skis, along with adequate food, water, and a reliable light source.
  2. Route Planning: Understand the implications of your route, especially if deviating from the original plan. Lower elevation drainages can hold more snow than ridges.
  3. Timing: Start early in the morning to avoid the worst of the warming snow or opt for lower elevation trails to avoid spring postholing.

LCSAR also issued a crucial warning: during last night’s mission, a trench was placed into Elbert Creek Drainage from the Northeast Slopes trail. This trench is not part of the trail and leads into hazardous terrain.

With the persistent snow and unpredictable conditions, hikers are advised to prepare thoroughly or consider lower elevation adventures to ensure safety.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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