BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC4) – Three skiers found themselves caught in the middle of an avalanche in Silver Fork at Big Cottonwood Canyon Friday morning.
The trio had skied the runs known as Brad’s Line and Silver Spoon Thursday and decided to return to the same area — this time they went further south to the “Football Field” — also known as “Meadow Chutes,” a press release says.
Once the three reached the top, they transitioned to downhill mode and experienced a significant “collapse” of the snowpack. Once they began skiing the deep powder, they reported only thinking about how good the ski was — one skier had experience in the area but forgot how steep the breakover was.
The first two skiers descended one at a time, but once the third person skied over the breakover, they saw the shooting cracks to the left and right of them and attempted to outrun the avalanche.
The avalanche quickly caught the skier and pushed them into some small trees. The skier was fully buried but was able to move his arms and clear his airway.
The other two skiers walked uphill and attached climbing skins to their skis and were able to reach the buried skier in 10 minutes.
The only injuries reported were a few scratches.
The trapped skier released a statement:
“I was the third skier down, and when I came over the ridge, the pitch turned steeper. Approximately 2-3 turns later, I saw out of my left periphery a fracture; I checked to the right and saw it propagate all the way around to my right. I thought I could out ski the slide, but as I reached the lower half of the slope, I got washed into some trees and knocked off my feet. I was fully submerged and knew if anyone could get me out, it was my two buddies. Once the snow stopped I was able to clear my mouth of snow and shoot my arm through the snow, and I saw DAYLIGHT! I cleared a hole to get some air and began trying to extricate myself. Due to the depth of my feet and having one ski that was still attached, I couldn’t get myself out. My ski partners arrived within minutes, and we were able to get me out, find all my gear, and live to ski another day. Pay close attention to slope angle, even if you think you can out-ski any slides.”
In response to the accident, the Utah Avalanche Center says, “We aim to learn from accidents like this and in no way intend to point fingers at victims. We at the Utah Avalanche Center have had our close calls and know how easy it is to make mistakes.”