The Park Record editorial, November 18-20, 2009 | ParkRecord.com

The Park Record editorial, November 18-20, 2009

Avalanches are inevitable, but dying in them is not

So far, the snowstorms have been sporadic and most winter-recreation enthusiasts have yet to pull their skis, boots and boards out of their closets. But the Utah Avalanche Center staff is already on the job. Before long they will be issuing the daily reports that serve as a beacon for ski patrollers who do avalanche-control work at the resorts as well as skiers and snowmobilers who like to trailblaze their own pathways in the mountains.

It is impossible to guess how many lives have been saved by the center’s astute snow reporting and extensive educational outreach programs, but that number certainly has grown each year as more people head farther out of bounds thanks, in part, to more sophisticated equipment.

We do know that there have been a handful of fatalities in the backcountry every year, fatalities that could have been averted. We know, too, that thousands of sportsmen have come to rely on the center’s avalanche reports to plan their outings so they can avoid high-hazard situations.

The center’s professional forecasting is supported by government grants. But, to ensure they can spread the word as widely as possible, they also rely on user donations. The contributions help to maintain an elaborate website as well as free access to local phone lines. The daily recordings list detailed snow and wind conditions a lifesaver for anyone venturing into the Wasatch or Uinta mountains.

Donations to support the Utah Avalanche Center’s valuable services can be made by logging on to http://utahavalanchecenter.org

And while you are waiting for the snow to pile up, consider taking a preseason Avalanche Awareness Class from White Pine Touring. The class will be held Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library and Education Center. The introductory class is free but a $10 donation is appreciated and goes to benefit the Utah Avalanche Center. For more information about the class, contact White Pine Touring by calling 435-649-8710

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