An avalanche buried and killed a 31-year-old snowboarder traveling in the backcountry outside Park City Mountain Resort today, Friday, January 8. According to reports from local law enforcement, a massive rescue operation was mobilized in the Dutch Draw area outside the resort, following an emergency call placed by the victim's girlfriend who watched the slide occur. Dutch Draw is a zone that frequently avalanches. Tragically, the man did not survive the burial, and was found by an avalanche dog this afternoon, buried under two feet of debris. It is unclear whether he was carrying avalanche gear. Last season, a snowboarder was killed in an avalanche in the same area. Today’s avalanche rating in the Wasatch was Considerable.
The Utah Avalanche Center has been warning backcountry travelers for weeks about the weak snowpack structure, with this morning’s report reading:
“If you are leaving the ski area through an exit gate, you are entering the backcountry and likely stepping into a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger. Previous tracks are zero indication of stability. If you are skiing or riding alone, you have no margin of safety with no one to perform a rescue. There have been several close calls/near misses this past week and I am fearful our luck has run out. Fortunately, excellent riding conditions exist on low-angled slopes other than due south.”
Even the most experienced riders aren't immune to unstable snowpack. Maurice Kervin learned this firsthand last Friday while snowboarding on Loveland Pass, his 65th day of riding this season. Kervin and his ski partners had been keeping a close eye on the avalanche forecast all week. Although the danger had actually dropped, Kervin recalls feeling unsure of the conditions. Intending to ski a line called 'No Name,' the pair set out, and tested snow stability along the way, not finding any red
Big waves are nothing new to surfers these days, but how about to skiers? California skier Chuck Patterson decided to combine two of his favorite things-- big wave surfing and skiing on some of Half Moon Bay's biggest swells. Using custom skis designed specifically for this feat, and taking inspiration from Patterson's late friend, Shane McConkey, they allow him to carve the waves as he would snow. Fitted with classic ski bindings, and worn with regular ski boots, the carnage if Patterson
Utah's snowpack continues to be unstable and unpredictable. Three snowmobilers experienced it firsthand while riding in Franklin Basin, Utah near the Idaho border last week. The three were out riding when one of them triggered a slide and was carried down to a tree well. He deployed his airbag but was buried under three feet of snow for around fifteen minutes before being rescued by his partners. While the rider was unresponsive upon being found by his partners, they were able to revive him