Outdoorsman's Death Reminder Of Present Avalanche Dangers

Avalanche Forecasters Say Danger Still Considerable

Despite being an avid outdoorsman, a 53-year-old man fell victim to an avalanche over the weekend, prompting avalanche forecasters to remind climbers and skiers that the dangers in Colorado's high country are still considerable.

Steven Bloom, 53, was snowshoeing with his girlfriend Saturday afternoon when he fell 50 yards off the road and was caught in an avalanche near Echo Lake. He died hours later after climbers and rescue crews worked to free him from the snow.

"We think what triggered the avalanche was him actually struggling in the snow a little bit to get back up to the road," said avalanche forecaster Ann Mellick. "It takes a lot of experience, and even experienced professionals get caught."

Bloom's girlfriend, Judi Schwandt, said he had climbed several 14ers.

"We're active. This is what we do. We knew what we were doing," she added.

Avalanche forecasters said they can tell from the previous damage that Saturday's avalanche was not the first to occur in the Echo Lake area in recent months.

Forecasters said the tragedy is a reminder that the avalanche danger is considerable.

Each day avalanche forecasters head to the backcountry to access the avalanche danger by measuring the layers and recording the temperature and testing the strength.

"When you can take out blocks of snow a lot of times it's a sign of strength," said avalanche forecaster Lee Metzger.

However, although the avalanche danger has subsided, experts said there is still considerable danger near and at tree lines, and on wind-loaded slopes.

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