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Samples from downed trees near Snowmass will aid research of historic avalanche cycle

ASPEN — Mike Cooperstein and Jason Konigsberg maneuvered a 6-foot long cross-cut saw with menacing teeth into position Tuesday on a hulking spruce trunk that was ripped out of the ground by an avalanche in March 2019.

“It makes a ringing sound when you get a groove going,” said Konigsberg, who had prior experience as a sawyer while working on U.S. Forest Service trail crews.

Indeed, the two-person cross-cut saw did emit a ring as they sliced into the dried wood. Before long they completed the cut through the 42-centimeter diameter trunk, then immediately started another just inches away from the first. Their work produced a disk or cookie of wood that exposes the tree rings.

The men were part of a four-person crew from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center along with Brian Lazar and Brandon Levy, and they harvested 12 cookies recently 2 miles up the East Snowmass Creek Trail outside of Snowmass Village.

A massive, D5 avalanche started at Garrett Peak and continued roughly 2 miles of the ridgeline toward Willow Pass at the end of a historically significant avalanche cycle in March 2019. The slide rolled down about 2,200 vertical feet. D5 is the highest on the destruction scale. It is a landscape-altering event.

Read more on our partner site The Aspen Times.

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