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Skiers, others taking precautions over avalanche danger in Colorado's high country

Posted at 7:57 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 00:18:18-05

WINTER PARK, Colo. -- All of the fresh snow brings out a lot of backcountry skiers and riders, but many are taking a lot of precautions to stay safe in the process.

The amount of snow that has fallen in Colorado’s high country isn’t taken lightly by those who frequent the backcountry areas.

“Beacon, shovel, probe; I also have one of the new airbag avalanche packs, a walkie-talkie's [sic] --- I took avalanche level one a few years back," said Eric Wolf, who was skiing Berthoud Pass Wednesday.

“We try to avoid the open areas that you can tell where avalanches have happened before us, kind of avoid that, avoid the steep areas, places where you can tell its real iced over,” said John Attridg, who spent the day snowshoeing above tree line on Berthoud Pass.

Over the pass in Winter Park, ski patrol members work to mitigate avalanche danger in some spots of the mountain that aren’t yet open, trying to reduce risk to guests.

“They'll go in and they'll do everything from the explosives that you see in some of the side country terrain to also sort of ski cutting and that kind of thing in trees or in bounds," said Steve Herlbert, spokesperson for Winter Park Ski Resort.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said avalanche danger is likely to increase over the next 24 hours across the state, as crews continue to blast in dangerous areas that are prone to slides.

CDOT said watches are in place for the Front Range, Vail and Summit County, Aspen and the north and south San Juan's as well as Steamboat.

“Make sure you know what you're doing before you head into the backcountry because all it takes is one mistake and that can end your life," said Herlbert.

Every time the mountains see a lot of fresh snowfall, Winter Park and other resorts are out every day trying to make sure that some of the backcountry areas and those skied not too often are mitigated for avalanche danger.

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