A close call Tuesday afternoon serves as a reminder for backcountry skiers to be aware of dangerous conditions.
Local law enforcement officers were dispatched out to Conehead on the Park City Ridgeline again after a man triggered an avalanche in the same area that killed a 45-year-old Salt Lake City man on Sunday. Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright reports Tuesday’s avalanche was triggered by a parachute skier.
"(He had) gone off the Top of Dutch Draw or Conehead as I believe it’s referred to,” Wright said. “Went and touched down in the same area as where the avalanche happened on Sunday, triggered another smaller avalanche.”
Wright says after sending resources to the area and speaking to the skier, the department confirmed that no one was buried or seriously injured in the slide. Earlier Tuesday morning Trent Meisenheimer of the Utah Avalanche Center told KPCW about the dangers in the backcountry for the day.
“We’re really concerned up along the ridgeline, where the wind has blown snow into pillows and we're seeing some avalanches along those upper elevation ridge lines,” Meisenheimer explained. “Those slopes right now, especially the upper elevations, are unstable. We're encouraging people to avoid those by keeping their slope angles low so that means staying on terrains that's under 30 degrees in slope steepness. We also need to make sure that we have our rescue gear: beacon, shovel, probe. That's always standard in the backcountry and we always recommend traveling with a partner.”
The Utah Avalanche Center reported on Tuesday that the Park City area had considerable danger—a level three on a scale of five—on mid and upper elevations slopes that face northwest through east. The concern was triggering a deep and dangerous avalanche on a persistent weak layer of snow found at the base of the snowpack. Lt. Wright emphasized the importance of backcountry skiers following the Utah Avalanche Center’s alerts.
“People need to be aware of what they're getting themselves into when they decide to go into the backcountry,” Wright continued. “The fact that someone is up in the same area where an avalanche took the life of someone just two days ago, it's concerning that people are willing to continue to take that risk and go into the backcountry like that. In the exact same area, I mean it's literally next to the slide that took the life of the individual on Sunday. So, people need to be aware of that. They need to follow these alerts. They need to have the proper equipment and use good judgment and common sense when going into the backcountry.”
On Sunday, 45-year-old Salt Lake resident Matt Tauszik was buried in an avalanche in the Conehead area of Dutch Draw. Tauszik was skiing with his family in Canyons Resort when he entered the backcountry exit gate at the top of 9990 and triggered the avalanche that killed him.