Two snowboarders were rescued late Wednesday night after becoming buried and seriously injured in an avalanche on a backcountry slope near the Smith and Morehouse Reservoir in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
Around 4 p.m. Wednesday, one of the boarders jumped off a cliff, fracturing a large slab of snow. The slide carried one of the men, slamming him into trees on the way down. He was almost completely buried and only the tip of his snowboard was sticking up out of the snow. When they found him, he was gasping for air because he was suffocating. He broke both of his legs and was airlifted by a medical helicopter to a Salt Lake-area hospital. The other man was trapped under several feet of snow for up to eight minutes.
“We weren’t notified until around 8:15 p.m. when people that were involved with the party finally made it down to Oakley where they had cell phone service,” Wright said. “Unfortunately they didn’t heed the warnings and they are super lucky because they should have been dead based off of the size of that slide. We’re glad they are OK and alive. We are glad it was this outcome instead of digging out bodies, but it was still a bad situation and I think we will be dealing with this for the rest of the winter.”
Both were in their mid-40s and from the Salt Lake Valley, and were with a group of 11 near Mud Lake Flats when the accident occurred. He told rescuers he had an avalanche beacon on, but it wasn’t working so he had turned it off.
Craig Gordon, a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center, said avalanche danger in the Uinta and Wasatch Mountains remains high in certain backcountry areas, meaning human-triggered slides are likely. He said other zones are experiencing considerable danger as storms continue to drop light, fluffy now on top of already dense snow. Please be careful out there.
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