Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SLCOSAR) was called out Friday evening to assist two “cliffed-out” skiers near Mount Superior, UT.
The two set out from Alta early Friday afternoon, intending to ski the south face of Superior. They missed their line and ended up descending further west, between Superior and Monte Cristo. They enjoyed turns in excellent snow until encountering a cliff band that blocked downhill progress. They realized they were not on the south face of Superior, and as they had no technical gear to rappel or knowledge of a “sneak route” around the cliffs, they decided to call for help.
It was decided the skiers should go back up to the summit of Superior, where they would have the option to descend either the south face or back down the approach route. A team of 4 rescuers was deployed on skis, using the approach route and intending to reach and supply the patients with warm clothing, headlamps, food, and water before skiing back down with them. The Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau was contacted and requested they assist in the rescue.
A team of rescuers watched the skiers slow progress uphill from a spot on Lower Cottonwood Canyon road below Snowbird, using night vision and thermal imaging optics. After a short time, the DPS crew was available, flew to the patient’s location, and determined they could hoist them off the mountain. As the ground team was an hour or more away and the patients still had considerable elevation to gain the summit, a hoist operation was chosen. It was also around 15 degrees on the mountain, and the skiers had been out for more than 8 hours.
The hoist operation went smoothly, and soon both patients were back at Alta base. The ground team was recalled, made a few turns in the dark, and returned to command safely. All were off the mountain by 11:30 pm.
We thank the Utah Department of Public Safety, Alta Marshalls, and Alta ski patrol for their assistance with the rescue.
You can donate to their all-volunteer team here. Thank you.