Avalanche danger considerable Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff
Avalanche danger in Summit County was high this week as several feet of heavy snow fell in the Wasatch and Uinta mountains.
"It’s not quite extreme," said Bruce Tremper, director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Utah Avalanche Center. "There’s about one day a year when maybe it’s extreme." Slide forecasters, who expected the threat to drop to considerable on Wednesday, warned backcountry travelers to equip themselves with beacons, shovels and probes, and stay away from steep slopes.
"We’ve just had a huge amount of new snow," said Bruce Tremper, director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Utah Avalanche Center. "I would think things would stabilize out pretty quickly."
Seven inches of water weight in the snow combined with high winds created dangerous layers throughout the Wasatch Back. On Tuesday, searchers had still not recovered the body of a Utah man presumed dead after an avalanche buried him and his snowshoeing partner on Mount Timpanogos several days ago.
According to Tremper, the avalanche danger was quickly rising to high when the deadly slide was triggered. "He was in an extremely dangerous area," he said.
"It’s been very warm," Tremper added. "Snow is just like people, it doesn’t like rapid changes."
Many skilled backcountry enthusiasts will stay away until the snow is stable, however, Tremper had some advice for those who can’t resist. "You don’t want to be on or underneath slopes steeper than 30 degrees," he said, about uncontrolled areas of the backcountry. "Really squared away people are just not going out everything is dangerous."
Tremper intends to speak Saturday about avalanche science at a workshop sponsored by The Canyons ski patrol. The event begins at 7 p.m. at Treasure Mountain Middle School in Park City. "[Park City] is kind of a tricky place there’s a lot of really squared away people but then there are a lot of tourists too," Tremper said. Derik Spice, a ski patroller at The Canyons, recalled several recent avalanche deaths near the resort. Two people died in a slide on Square Top peak and one in a slide near the Red Cliff area within the past few years, he said.
The resort made national headlines last January when 27-year-old Shane Maixner, of Sandpoint, Idaho, died in a human-triggered avalanche in Dutch Draw.
"The terrain isn’t picky about where it gets you we’re trying to get people to learn about the local hazards," Spice said about the upcoming workshop. "It’s a free seminar."
For more information about Saturday’s avalanche-awareness workshop contact The Canyons at 615-2203. Visit http://www.avalanche.org for updates on slide conditions in Utah.
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