Solo Skier Triggered Avalanche in Neffs Canyon, UT, Buried Up To His Chest and Suffers Serious Injuries

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Credit: UAC

A solo skier triggered and was partially buried in an avalanche in the Thomas Fork area of Neffs Canyon above the Olympus Cove area, UT, yesterday. The 35-year-old man was rescued last night following an eight-hour rescue mission.

The man was skiing between 10:30 am and 10:45 am when he triggered the slide. The soft slab slide was up to three feet deep and 200 feet wide. The man, carried and buried up to his chest, suffered a broken leg and arm injury.

Solo skier caught, carried, and partially buried in a drainage of the Thomas Fork of Neff’s Canyon. A second solo person was traveling up the bottom of Neff’s Canyon when he heard yelling and traveled up to the first skier. He found the first skier buried chest-deep in debris. The first skier had been buried for approximately 45 minutes when he was discovered. The second person then called 911 and began to extract the first skier. The first skier sustained serious injuries from the avalanche.

Rescuers from Salt Lake County Search and Rescue, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, and DPS responded and after both helicopter and on-foot efforts were able to transport the injured skier out downhill to the Neff’s summer trail. A snowmobile carried the injured skier to the Neffs Canyon trailhead and finally an ambulance.

More details to follow after an accident investigation.

UAC Preliminary report

Credit: UAC

The skier yelled for help for 30 to 45 minutes before another skier, an off-duty Unified Fire Authority EMT, heard him. Rescue crews were alerted at 11:30 am but were unable to fly a helicopter to the area to hoist the skier out due to adverse weather conditions. Crews skied to the man before bringing him to an area where he could be reached by snowmobile. The man was loaded into an ambulance eight hours after the initial call.

Following recent heavy snowfall, the Utah Avalanche Center has recorded 13 avalanches in Utah over the last two days, with the majority of them being caused by a skier, snowboarder, or snowmobiler.

Today’s forecast rates the avalanche danger as considerable.

“Dangerous avalanche conditions exist! The north-facing slopes that are harboring old weak faceted snow surfaces are not to be messed with.”

– UAC forecast

Today’s forecast. Credit: UAC
Credit: UAC
Credit: UAC
Rescuers on the scene. Credit: UAC
Avalanche location. Credit: UAC

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