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A prominent backcountry skiing guide was one of two men caught in a fatal avalanche Thursday in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Tyson Bradley, longtime Wasatch ski expert and author of the Falcon Guide book "Backcountry Skiing Utah," was skiing with Salt Lake City resident Douglas Green on Gobblers Knob on Thursday afternoon, when an avalanche swept Green down the slope and buried him, according to reports by the Unified Police and the Utah Avalanche Center.

Green, 49, died at the scene. Bradley, 50, was partially buried but survived.

According to a preliminary report by the Utah Avalanche Center, Bradley and Green were skiing from the top of Gobblers Knob down a south-facing route known as Whitesnake, into the Mill A basin.

Bradley, who apparently was guiding Green, descended about 300 feet to a safe spot to his right, where Green joined him, said Mark Staples, director of the Utah Avalanche Center.

Bradley continued down the slope, when he felt the snow destabilize as the avalanche began, Staples said. Bradley skied quickly to a tree "that pretty much saved his life" by preventing him from being swept away by the slide.

But Green already had begun to follow him.

"[Bradley] saw the other skier appeared to have started skiing already," Staples said. "It all was happening pretty fast."

The 600-foot-wide avalanche caught Green, who deployed an inflatable bag designed to prevent a deep burial in an avalanche. But the slide was large and fast, carrying Green over 2,500 feet of terrain and dropping him 1,400 feet in elevation — likely at speeds of 60 to 70 mph — into the gully below, "like a big pinball machine," Staples said.

"This falls in the category of what we would call unsurvivable," Staples said. "This is a big avalanche ... and we see a lot of avalanches."

Green and Bradley were both wearing avalanche beacons. Bradley skied to the bottom of the slide and located Green, who was about 3 feet deep in a 15-foot layer of snow and debris deposited by the avalanche.

Green had no pulse when Bradley dug him out, and Bradley began to perform CPR. A helicopter flew both men to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where doctors could not revive him. Bradley was treated for minor injuries, said UPD Lt. Lex Bell.

Witnesses reported seeing the slide, but Staples said investigators are still trying to learn whether they were part of Green and Bradley's party, or whether they were skiing independently in the area.

It was Utah's first avalanche death of the season.

Forecasters this week warned that recent snow, heavy in the higher elevations, had coupled with windy conditions to make unstable slopes. The Wasatch Mountains were under an avalanche warning Thursday, with a danger rating of "considerable" on south-facing slopes above 9,500 feet, such as the one where Green and Bradley were skiing, according to the UAC's daily report.

Staples said avalanche risks remained elevated even after the avalanche warning was set to expire Friday morning. The danger is especially high on slopes steeper than 30 degrees, such as the one where Thursday's avalanche occurred.

According to a biography posted on the website for Bradley's guide company, Utah Mountain Adventures, he is an avalanche instructor as well as a skiing and mountaineering guide during the winter, and a rock-climbing instructor in summer. He has led expeditions into the Himalayas, Alps and Andes, as well as 10 Denali expeditions. He has made several "first descents" by ski in Alaska and has been guiding skiers since 1994.

Green also was reported to be an experienced skier, Staples said.

"The takeaway is ... the snowpack doesn't know that you're an expert," Staples said. "It's an equal-opportunity killer."

An investigation by the Avalanche Forecast Center was to continue Friday.

— Reporter Bob Mims contributed to this story