The Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) has warned skiers and riders to treat closed ski resorts like the backcountry after a skier triggered an avalanche at Alta Ski Area on Wednesday.
Wednesday 5/4 – Skier triggered avalanches are reported from closed Cottonwood resorts. Treat closed ski areas like the backcountry as no control work is being performed.
Avalanches are possible once any new snow warms up. @AltaSkiArea
— UtahAvalancheCenter (@UACwasatch) May 4, 2022
The avalanche was on West Rustler near the Christmas Tree run, was 12″ deep and 50-feet wide, according to the UAC. The skier was carried by the avalanche, losing his skis, but escaped unharmed.
Hadn't seen any signs of instability and the new snow seemed decently bonded on the skin up, so decided to ski something steep-ish. Made two ski cuts at the top and nothing moved. Half way down the run the snow had other ideas and a point release propagated into a 50' wide slow moving slide that entrained all of the new snow. Tried to ski out of it, but lost both skis. Went for a ride for a couple hundred vert, but was able to stay on top sliding on my butt/back. Was wearing and ready to deploy an airbag, but didn't need to. The slide spread out and came to a gentle stop as the terrain flattened. I came away unharmed. A nearby group of three that witnessed the slide called over to make sure I was ok and no one else was involved, then kindly helped my fetch my skis, which fortunately ran downhill rather than getting buried. I alerted Alta staff and a few skiers starting their tour at the bottom. There was at least one other similar slide nearby by the time I got to the bottom.
- report submitted to UAC
UAC warned that because areas are closed mitigation work is not being completed and that skiers and riders should treat closed resorts like they would the backcountry. They are concerned that as temperatures rise, the risks of slides will increase.
The only ski area in Utah that is still operating is Snowbird.