Utah Avalanche Center warns the backcountry needs a day or two to stabilize
The number of avalanches reported over the weekend from Ogden to Provo is approaching 30, with more reports trickling in. The new snow and wind-drifted snow is creating considerable danger on the upper elevation slopes in the backcountry.
The Utah Avalanche Center was inundated with reports this weekend.
Forecaster Trent Meisenheimer said six people were carried in several different avalanches and another person was caught and injured in Big Cottonwood Canyon in an area known as Butler’s Basin.
He said the party had already skied the bowl once and on the second hike up went about 10 feet higher. One of the skiers stomped out a flat spot to take off his skins, which apparently caused the bowl to fracture above them. He was pushed a few feet to the side of the avalanche but his buddy still had his skis and skins on in hiking mode. The slide pushed him into a stand of trees, burying him to the top of his chest. He reported that he also heard and felt his hamstring pop. His partner was able to dig him out and release his skis.
“The list of our avalanche observations is actually too long to write out on avalanche forecasts,” Meisenheimer said. “So, I'd encourage listeners to head to utahavalanchecenter.org. Right at the top of our page you can see observations and avalanches and there's a huge list of these pictures, photos, everything in there. Really the biggest concern for the day is going to be this one drifted snow.”
The tricky part is the wind slabs are now buried by new snowfall which makes it more difficult to spot which slopes are wind-loaded and which ones aren’t, he said.
“I would ride slopes that aren't avalanche terrain,” he said. “So that means under 30 degrees in slope steepness and let this snow stabilize just for a few days. New snow, the good thing about it is it rapidly stabilizes so it's like, you know, just give it a day or two and we should be able to be back in avalanche terrain and powder conditions.”
If you trigger or see an avalanche, call the nearest mountain dispatch and alert them. This allows search and rescue teams to determine what resources are needed.