From February 1st to the 7th, there have been 14 avalanche fatalities, marking the most avalanche-related deaths for the United States in a seven-day period since 1910.
On Saturday in Utah, eight skiers were caught in an avalanche in Millcreek canyon. Four skiers were able to self-arrest, but the other four died from the incident. The four victims were in their mid to late-twenties and all had the proper equipment and were experienced skiers. This tragedy also follows the death of a backcountry rider who died in an avalanche on the Park City Ridgeline on January 30th.
Also on Saturday, a 60-year-old snowmobiler was killed in Montana’s Swan Range.
In Colorado, a 41-year-old man died after getting caught in a slide in the East Vail Chutes. Three days prior, three men were killed by an avalanche while skiing an area known as the Nose, which is just southeast of Ophir.
In California, a 35-year-old man died after getting caught in an avalanche near the town of Etna in Siskiyou County.
While none of these incidents are connected, there’s a troubling common theme to many of these fatal accidents: weak persistent layers in the snowpack. Throughout the Western U.S., there was very little early snow, which created deadly weak persistent layers. Recent snowstorms have been piling onto these bad layers, leading to deadly slabs of snow and heightened avalanche danger.
The video above is from an avalanche incident this weekend in Utah's Uinta mountains. The snowmobilers involved all survived.
In unprecedented times like this, it’s more important than ever to be prepared when you head into the backcountry. Making a plan starts with your local avalanche forecaster, and lucky for you we’ve compiled a list of all the Avalanche Centers in North America. Once you’ve found your local forecaster center, consider taking one step further by donating to these vital resources for the backcountry. Most centers in North America are non-profit or charity organizations that are barely making ends meet, and all could use more support. A simple donation—whether is $5 or $100—can help ensure that these services are around for years to come.
If you're looking to brush up on your backcountry safety knowledge, be sure to check out TGR's safety week content.
A man was killed in an avalanche on Monday in Grand Teton National Park on the north side of 25 Short. National Park Rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue officials were called to the avalanche which occurred in the Broken Thumb Couloir. Avalanche danger was reported as Considerable, with concern about persistent slabs and wind slabs. The victim was identified as Matthew Brien, a 33-year-old local snowboarder. This is the third avalanche death in the Tetons in the last seven days,
For the better part of 2021, ski patrollers at several large ski resorts in the Western US have made headlines as they negotiate their contracts to reflect the dedication they put into their jobs. For those of us that ski at a resort regularly, or even have at all in our lifetimes, we know that ski patrol is an essential part of not just staying safe, but also having a good time on the mountain. This season especially, it’s felt like ski patrollers could use a little extra love as they’ve
Black Diamond Equipment has initiated talks with US Consumer Protection Agency to issue a voluntary recall on all Pieps DSP avalanche beacons, in a formal response to a design issue that can accidentally lead to the beacon switching out of transmit mode. The issue almost cost TGR athlete Nick McNutt his life in an avalanche accident last winter. On the commonly used Pieps DSP Ice, DSP Sport and DSP Pro, the switch that changes the beacon from off to transmit to receive can easily get damaged