(This letter was originally addressed to fellow hikers.)
Over the past few years, the hike up Arbaney-Kittle Trail has become an increasingly popular workout for many people in the Roaring Fork Valley. Hikers are now using the trail on a daily basis through the winter. Hikers need to understand that the Arbaney-Kittle Trail and Arbaney Gulch penetrate into serious avalanche terrain.
The snowpack resting above the Arbaney-Kittle Trail has significant weakness and small, shallow avalanches have been observed as a result of wind loading of fairly insignificant snowfall. Arbaney Gulch is a terrain trap in which a small avalanche can be deadly. Most avalanches occur during or just following storm activity. Consult the CAIC website for the current avalanche forecast. If you are hiking Arbaney-Kittle in the winter, you have become a participant in a backcountry activity. If you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention.