Back in February 2014, for example, we reported about six deaths from western avalanches in less than a week, including that of Colorado's Ashleigh Cox.
These risks are reinforced by a remarkable, newly posted video that shows a snowmobiler accidentally triggering an avalanche and tumbling into the void left behind by the sliding slab.
Fortunately, the snowmobiler lived to tell the tale.
As noted by the indispensable Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the slide took place around 11 a.m. on March 19 on Shrine Ridge, near Vail Pass.
Around that time, according to the CAIC, one of two snowmobilers riding in the area ascended up a northeast-facing slope "with the goal of gaining the ridge."
As he got within 100 feet, however, the rider "realized he had triggered an avalanche and was on the slab," which disappeared beneath his sled — causing the rider to fly into the gap it left.
"The snowmobile augured into the bed surface by its handlebars," the CAIC account points out, while "the rider slid down the slick bed surface for about ten feet before being able to self-arrest."
He wasn't hurt as a result of this leap into the unknown, and the second snowmobiler escaped unscathed, too. He was below the avalanche and was able to ride away from it before being swept under the wave of snow.
Weeks later, a clip appeared featuring point-of-view video from the first snowmobiler. The avalanche occurs around the three-minute point, with the rider plummeting into the space previously occupied by the slab seconds later.
See it here, followed by more photos of the area courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.