Archive - Avalanche Pass and Hanging Valley

June 14, 2020


Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally published June 14, 2003.

Provided by: John Cys, Midwestern State University
Summary author: John Cys

The above photo shows a classic avalanche path near Belford Falls, Colorado. Avalanches repeatedly occur at the same site, and this results in well defined tracks or paths -- trees do not have sufficient time for re-growth between avalanche occurrences. The avalanche path shown here, in the Sawatch Range of the Colorado Rockies, is unusual because it splits in two near the base of the mountain.

Also shown on the photo (right edge) is Belford Falls, which is at the end of a hanging valley. Hanging valleys are created at the sides of a primary glacial valley -- a glacier cuts deeper here than it does in tributary valleys. When the glacier recedes, the tributary valleys are left hanging, and this leads to the formation of waterfalls.

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