The season’s snowfall was slightly above average, with snowpack in April at 109% of average. After a great start to the winter, April was the driest April in twenty years for the mountains, and the driest ever recorded in Salt Lake City. The previous season saw snowpack reach 168% of average.
We feel like we have been on a roller coaster ride for the past couple of months. The winter started out great with above-average snowfall throughout the state, then the sky seemed to dry up in late February and brought mostly dry conditions through the spring. The COVID-19 pandemic caused resorts to close and pushed many new users into the backcountry in March and April. The season ended with a snowpack 109% of average across the state.
There were 314 reported human-triggered avalanches, with 28 people caught, 15 buried, and 2 fatalities. The previous winter saw 250 human triggered slides, 23 people caught, 6 buried and 4 killed.
Fatalities were half the previous year, but the report states that the six fatalities over the two years featured ill-equipped riders, further highlighting the need for continued education.
Similar to last year, both parties were missing critical pieces of avalanche rescue gear. What stands out in all of these tragic events is that the people involved have been lacking critical pieces of avalanche rescue gear. These critical items are an avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel which need to be carried by every member of the group.
Of note, the combination of an April storm cycle, good riding, and more people in the backcountry after ski areas closed resulted in 50 human-triggered slides over a 48-hour period featuring many close calls, but fortunately no major accidents.
Definitely take time to check out the full report.