The first (reported) skier-triggered avalanche in Utah this season occurred on Friday in Albion Basin at Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon, according to the Utah Avalanche Center (UAC).
Natural avalanches had already been spotted as early as 11th October as an early season storm dumped up to two feet of fresh snow in the Wasatch mountains.
UAC Snow Profile Comments
Variable base depths with significant density discrepancies between the storms on 12/13th and the one on the 14th. Some slab-like chatacteristics of those top 8 or so inches and some spots of moderate wind loading below the ridgeline on those east faces also noted on the uphill.
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This small slide, 6″ deep and 20′ wide, was triggered by a skier in Albion Basin at Alta SKi Area.
Small soft slab initiated by a skiier in a party behind mine that dropped earlier near High Greely. Noticed the slide as we came down our line ~9:47am. No one seemed to be caught and if they did, skiied out. Also noticed some similar activity but with a much longer and slightly wider runout on the southeast side of the same hill, this one looking more like a natural slide.
While nobody was caught or injured, the avalanche serves as a reminder that early season snow is dangerous, and the oft-repeated cliché ‘if there’s enough snow to ride, there’s enough snow to slide’ holds true.
The UAC reminded backcountry users to always carry a beacon, shovel, and probe while also recommending you ski with a partner. Also, unopened ski areas should still be approached as you would the backcountry.