‘Avalanche season is ramping up’ how you can keep safe in the backcountry

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The backcountry is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. But it can turn into a nightmare in just seconds.

“Avalanche season is ramping up,” said Chad Brackelsberg, the executive director of the Utah Avalanche Center (UAC).

He said more snow means more avalanches and those who recreate in the backcountry should be prepared.

“Get the gear, get the training, get the forecast, get the picture and get out of harm’s way,” Brackelsberg said.

But if the inevitable happens and a person does find themselves in a winter landslide, there are ways to be prepared.

“You have three main pieces of avalanche rescue gear. Your beacon shovel and probe,” Brackelsberg said. “And then you have additional gear that can help increase your odds. Such as an avalanche airbag.”

In the last year, the UAC reports 250 avalanches were human-caused, killing six people.

“Avalanches are deadly,” Brackelsberg said. “They can reach speeds of 60 to 100 miles an hour.”

Brackelsberg said if a person becomes buried underneath the snow, they have about 15 minutes to be uncovered.

While not all avalanches are caused by people, Brackelsberg cautions those who recreate to check the avalanche forecast and avoid high alert areas.

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