DAVIS COUNTY (ABC4 News) – If you frequent the backcountry, can you identify a terrain trap? The Utah Avalanche Center says a terrain trap is a steep slope that ends in a flat area like a lake, pond or gully.
Trent Meisenheimer from the Utah Avalanche Center says it can be difficult to spot one.
“If you’re in avalanche terrain, you really want to focus on anytime the slope goes from steep to flat,” said Meisenheimer.
Chase Adams found himself on a terrain trap on Saturday in Farmington Canyon when he triggered an avalanche and died.
The 18-year-old was snowmobiling with his father. Adams ended up being buried standing up.
“His head was about 6 feet,” said Meisenheimer. “His foot was about 11. When you’re digging through avalanche debris it sets up just like concrete.” It’s why first responders weren’t able to just pull him out of the buried snow.
Adams’ rescue was started by a group of eyewitnesses. When first responders arrived they took over.
Meisenheimer said Adams had all of the proper gear, but being in a terrain trap with the weight of the snow made his airbag ineffective.
He does recommend if you’re going in the backcountry to make sure you go with someone, as well as pack an avalanche transceiver, a shovel, and a probe stick. It can increase your chances of survival.
Educational courses are also critical in learning how to stay safe as well as identify terrain traps.
The Utah Avalanche Center says from January 2019 to January 2020, there have been six avalanche deaths in Utah. Not having the right gear played a critical role in each one.
Meisenheimer added, “This was pretty shocking to me all of which either the victim or somebody in their party hasn’t had the essential rescue gear.”
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