It’s April 30th so the avalanche season isn’t completely over yet. However, the numbers for 2014/2015 are encouraging. While any fatality is too many, this season’s nine fatalities are the fewest since 1991. A large reason behind the drop is undoubtedly the poor snow year along the west coast and the warm temperatures further inland, which helped keep the avalanche danger low for much of the year. Still, the strong efforts of the Forest Service avalanche centers and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to provide avalanche education and information surely helped more people stay safe in the backcountry. Longer range trends are also encouraging. While backcountry use has skyrocketed in the past 15 years, our 5-year moving average for avalanche fatalities has stayed fairly stable, running between about 25 and 30 per year.
Thanks to the Spencer Logan and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for maintaining the US avalanche accident database and for providing this graphic!