'Historic-sized' avalanche near Aspen damages home, trees
An enormous avalanche outside Aspen claimed thousands of trees and damaged a home in its path Saturday afternoon.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) says the avalanche off Highlands Ridge was "historic" in size, measuring over a mile wide and dropping more than 3,000 vertical feet.
A photo from CAIC shows the massive area where the snow broke off.
"Highlands Ridge released naturally. Not a path or two off the ridge but everything from the Five Fingers to the K Chutes. The K Chutes ran as big as I've seen them go, and that was just a small portion," wrote a CAIC staff member in a field report.
The avalanche gained so much momentum during its 3,000-foot drop that it crossed a creek and ran back uphill for several hundred vertical feet, the field report said.
The house in its path was protected by defensive structures, which were enough to keep the house standing but not to withstand damage -- the chimney was destroyed and windows were shattered. The home was unoccupied.
According to the CAIC forecast map, avalanche danger in Colorado's high country remains considerable (a three on a five-point scale) to high (four on a five-point scale).