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Snowmobilers trigger avalanche in Weber County

Published February 24, 2012 3:15 pm

Slides • Man breaks his leg one day after snowboarder is killed.
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Weber County Search and Rescue responded to an avalanche triggered by snowmobilers Friday morning, marking the second slide involving people in as many days.

The avalanche occurred in the Whiskey Hill area near Monte Cristo at 10:30 a.m. and sent one person to the hospital by medical helicopter with a broken leg, according to authorities. The man, who is in his 50s, was buried up to his visor before he was dug out by other snowmobilers, Fire Captain Mark Lund said. The avalanche measured about 350 feet across and between 750 feet to 900 feet long, Weber County officials said.

"He was very lucky to be dug out in time," Lund said, adding that it took rescuers a while to get to the area because there was no phone reception.

A Thursday avalanche took the life of 24-year-old snowboarder Timothy Robert Baker, who was caught in a slide outside the boundaries of The Canyons resort near the top of Ninety-Nine 90 Express lift.

Around 3 p.m., Baker triggered the avalanche that carried him down the mountain before he was buried for about 40 minutes under 3½ feet of snow, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. His snowboard was broken in half.

The steep terrain was wind-loaded with soft, dense slabs of new snow that slid about 900 feet. It started out about 1 foot deep and 40 feet wide, but fanned out to about 150 feet at the bottom, according to the center.

Baker's father, Pat Baker, on Friday said his son wanted to go to wildland firefighting school and be outside doing a physically demanding job.

"He had great stamina for work and play," he said.

Pat Baker described his oldest son as strong-willed, someone who was adamant about his opinions on politics and social injustices.

Younger brother Mark said Baker had been snowboarding for about five years and "loved it more than anything else. "

In his time working and living in Park City, Mark Baker said his brother found his little piece of paradise. "He was the best brother anyone can ask for."

Summit County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Bridge said Thursday the group Baker was with did not have any safety beacons and were in an area that was clearly marked with warning signs stating they were leaving a groomed trail area.

"He shouldn't have been out there. That's why they have signs," Pat Baker said, adding that the two had recently been talking about the extreme conditions.

An orange, or considerable risk grade, warning has been issued for potentially deadly slides for the mountains stretching from Salt Lake City to Provo, as well as the western Uintas and the Manti-Skyline area. Logan and Ogden areas are also rated considerable risk.






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