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There Have Been 15 U.S. Avalanche Fatalities Since Jan 30th

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.

In Alaska, three hikers—ages ranging from forties to fifties—were caught in an avalanche near Bear Mountain. And in New Hampshire, a 54-year-old man died from an avalanche in the Ammonoosuc Ravine.

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. 

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