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'Super close call' on Gobblers Knob: skier avalanche carried 600+ feet survives

A skier tumbled over 600 feet down Davis Gulch Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, and survived the avalanche.
Steve Gourley
A skier tumbled over 600 feet down Davis Gulch Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, and survived the avalanche.

A skier captured harrowing avalanche footage as she was carried down Davis Gulch between Big Cottonwood and Millcreek canyons Jan. 28.

“It may be some of the most breathtaking avalanche footage I've ever seen,” said Drew Hardesty, a forecaster of 25 years at the Utah Avalanche Center, who added it was a “super close call.”

The skier was in a group of three, and they were the second to ski that line down Gobblers Knob into Davis Gulch Sunday. The slope is named for skier Alan Davis who died there in 2003.

The skier Jan. 28 survived, only losing a pole, according to the UAC. They had to dig out one ski but for the most part stayed above the snow.

The UAC says she was carried 650 vertical feet at up to 27 mph.

The center believes the persistent weak layer that formed during the December dry spell is to blame. That layer has sparkly, sugary facets that don’t bond well.

After the initial slide, the entire west side of Davis Gulch released. The UAC estimates the final debris pile was 2000 feet down the mountain, 3 feet deep and 500 feet wide.

Hardesty says the avalanche danger right now is “low probability,” but “high consequence.”

“No thanks,” he told KPCW. “I'm sticking to low angle terrain still, exactly because of the avalanche triggered on Gobblers.”

Anything 30 degrees or steeper, or below slopes that steep, is considered avalanche terrain.

Click here for the latest on backcountry conditions.