Avalanche Takes Skier for 200′ Ride & Partially Buries Him at Alta Ski Area, UT Yesterday

SnowBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche


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A backcountry skier was partially buried below Main Chute on Mt. Baldy within the boundaries of the currently closed Alta ski resort in Utah at 7am yesterday.  The slab he broke off in Main Chute was 15″ deep and it took him for a 200-foot ride down the chute, over many sharp rocks, and left him partially buried in avalanche debris below the chute.

**note:  Alta is NOT doing any avalanche control at this time.  Alta ski area must be considered uncontrolled, backcountry terrain until opening day when avalanche control commences.

According to the Utah Avalanche Center, this avalanche occurred at 10,500-feet in Main Chute, was 15″ deep, 60-feet wide, and 200-feet long. The avalanche was triggered by the skier on a northeast facing slope of 37º of steepness. The avalanche was a soft slab/storm slab avalanche.

This guy was very lucky to escape uninjured and alive.

“Oops, very little snow in the chute, brown crust etc. I got to about 100 feet above the choke and cut left to make a turn into about 6 inches of snow and released a large soft slab crossloaded (2 feet deep) above me on the side of the chute. It took me halfway down the choke (200 feet or so) and briefly buried me.” – Skier who was partially buried in an avalanche at Alta ski area, UT yesterday

Photo of the crown of the avalanche in Main Chute off Mt. Baldy where the skier triggered the avalanche. photo taken yesterday afternoon by brett/UAC
Photo of the crown of the avalanche in Main Chute off Mt. Baldy where the skier triggered the avalanche. photo taken yesterday afternoon by brett/UAC


This skier was fortunate to survive this avalanche uninjured and with his life. 
This time of year, when there is very little snow cover, it’s easy to hit a rock while sliding in an avalanche and badly injure or kill yourself.

“There’s very little snow cover, there’s a lot of rocks, and even a small avalanche can push you into rocks or stumps, or whatever is lurking under snow.” – Brett Kobernik, avalanche forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center said yesterday

Photo taken of the avalanche debris where the skier was partially buried yesterday afternoon. photo: brett/UAC
Photo taken of the avalanche debris where the skier was partially buried yesterday afternoon. photo: brett/UAC

The famous pro skier Jamie Pierre died in an early season avalanche inbounds at next door Snowbird, UT before they opened on November 13th, 2011 He was killed due to hitting multiple rocks as the avalanche drug him down the sparsely snow covered, rocky mountainside.

“I won’t be surprised to hear about a human-triggered avalanche this afternoon.” – Brett Kobernik, avalanche forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center said yesterday before the avalanche occurred

RIP Jamie Pierre who died in an early season avalanche at Alta in 2011.
RIP Jamie Pierre who died in an early season avalanche at Alta in 2011.  image:  espn

According to Brett Kobernik, the cause of this avalanche was a weak layer of facets from a previous storm that is lurking below all the new snow that fell this week. 

Alta reported 13″ of new snow yesterday morning and the avalanche danger was rated at “MODERATE” yesterday.  The parking lot at Alta was packed yesterday and backcountry skiers and riders were everywhere doing everything…

Skiers and riders are currently seeking out the most dangerous snow pockets with the most avalanche potential because that is where the snow is deepest and best to ski.

“It’s the exact spot where folks are going to go to, because it’s the spots that have the most snow.” – Brett Kobernik, avalanche forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center said yesterday

Alta today at 11:25am
Alta today at 11:25am

If you’re going into the backcountry right now, please make sure that you have these four things:

  • Avalanche Education
  • Strong Backcountry Partners
  • Beacon, Probe, Shovel
  • Check the Avalanche Forecast for that day

Please be safe out there, snow humans.

 


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6 thoughts on “Avalanche Takes Skier for 200′ Ride & Partially Buries Him at Alta Ski Area, UT Yesterday

  1. Jamie’s fatal ride took place at Snowbird in 2011. There were several other incidents that same day within the boundaries of Alta Ski Area. Neither ski area was open for business and had not been conducting avalanche mitigation work prior to these events.

      1. If you’re editing the article you should also make it very clear that Alta is not conducting avalanche hazard work right now–this is not clear in the article and it is really important information to convey in this context.

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