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Avalanche danger extreme, skiers told to avoid backcountry

Published January 23, 2012 1:01 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The possibility for avalanches in Utah's backcountry is higher than it's been in several years, and authorities want Utahns to be safe.

The risk level for all mountain ranges is again at a high, the first time that condition has been in place for two days in a row in many years, said Bruce Tremper, director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.

"We were very, very lucky to get through Sunday without a fatality. It was sunny and that got people out, and they had powder fever," Tremper said. "But we were able to get the word out that it was very, very dangerous, and most people stayed inside the resort boundaries, and everyone came back alive."

Four snowboarders in the Hidden Canyons area near Brighton were caught in an avalanche Sunday. Two were carried down the mountain and partially buried, but they were uninjured. Snowmobilers in the Uintah mountains also triggered several avalanches, but no one was caught in them.

All but the most experienced and well-equipped skiers should stay out of the backcountry. While about 70 percent of the faces have avalanched, the remaining 30 percent have not, and they pose the most risk.

"If someone wants to get on something steep, get on the ones that have already avalanched," he said. "It's the [slopes] that have not come down that are the ones we are worried about."

More information about conditions and avalanche safety can be found at www.UtahAvalancheCenter.org.


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