Crazy Colorado weather patterns like we've been seeing this week make for a bad concoction when it comes to avalanches: In the span of about 10 days, the high country has seen balmy, summery temperatures, some snow, severe temperature drops below zero, and strong winds, with more of all of the above in the forecast for the next 10 days. That's precisely how the snowpack gets stacked up in a slippery way and gets to sliding, so it's worth knowing what you're getting into and what to do about it if you're heading into the backcountry for your winter adventures.
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The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) is calling the avalanche danger on the front range "moderate" at the moment, but will upgrade that to "considerable" with another 4-6 inches of snowfall. Perfect timing: This week REI continues its series of free avalanche awareness workshops with CAIC instructors at its Denver flagship store with Avalanche Terrain: Beyond the Basics on Tuesday, December 7 at 7pm, and Avalanche Transceiver Basics on Wednesday.
For more advanced avalanche education, check out the full CAIC class calendar. Start with the freebie classes, and if the helpful staff at REI talks you into buying a transceiver, snow probes, and avalanche shovel while you're at it, rest assured that it's probably not a bad idea.