A skier was buried for up to 23 minutes after being caught in an avalanche just outside Solitude Mountain Resort, UT, on Saturday, Utah rescuers said.
A guided group of eight skiers planned to ski through Silver Fork on Saturday, March 12, when one of the skiers in the group triggered an avalanche that swept through a gully, reports the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team.
The avalanche was 2.5′ deep, 150′ wide, and ran for 350′.
Several rescue teams rushed to the area, including ski patrol from Solitude Ski Resort. The group had already dug up the man buried for 23-minutes. He was breathing but unconscious.
Two Life Flight helicopters were deployed and responded within 20 minutes of the 911 call. The skier was flown to a nearby medical center.
Utah Avalanche Center report below:
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team was called out at approximately 12:30 on Saturday, March 12th. The brief report from the 911 call stated that a guided party of eight had been skiing down the East Bowl in Silver Fork, BCC; when the first skier in the group triggered an avalanche in a gully off of the East Bowl.
WBR (Wasatch Backcountry Rescue) Teams from Solitude, Brighton, and Snowbird were spun up immediately, with SLCO SAR, UPD, and Solitude Ski Patrol running a unified command from the road, next to Silver Fork Lodge. Given the proximity of the incident to Solitude Ski Resort, the WBR Patrollers were first on the scene. Relaying back to SAR command, the WBR Patrollers reported that there indeed had been one single burial and no other victims in the avalanche. SAR command was also informed that the patient had been under the snow anywhere from 15-23 minutes, dug up, recovered by his party, and the patient was unconscious but breathing.
Given the nature of the injuries and patient status, two Life Flight helicopters were deployed and responded within 20 minutes of the 911 call. The LF helicopters arrived on the scene, one with a hoist and one without. The hoist-ship collected the patient from the scene and brought him to the roadside where he was transferred off of the hoist to the second Life Flight helicopter, which was already on the ground, and flown to IMC. All parties involved are now off the mountain.
Disclaimer: This story may be revised as more details present themselves. To stay informed on current conditions and the forthcoming accident report, be sure to check out the Utah Avalanche Center. Go to https://utahavalanchecenter.org/ or follow @utavy on Instagram & Facebook for more information.
Notes: We are heartened by the outcome of this incident, and glad it was not any worse. Thank you to the many different organizations for pooling resources so quickly and working with us to perform this rescue: @intermountainlifeflight @wasatchbackcountryrescue @solitudeskipatrol @solitudemountain @snowbirdskipatrol @brightonskipatrol @unifiedpolicedepartment @unifiedfire @utavy and the many more volunteers and rescuers on the ground to assist our operations.
SPECIAL AVALANCHE BULLETIN issued for Saturday, March 12. We are very worried that a serious avalanche accident could occur this weekend. pic.twitter.com/pD4cOCr4Fx
— UtahAvalancheCenter (@UACwasatch) March 12, 2022
There was another avalanche in the same area on the same day that caught and partially buried a skier. That slide was was two miles away near Mats Basin.
There have been 12 avalanche-related fatalities in the US this winter season.