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Backcountry is scary

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

This weekend avalanche forecasters advise skiers, snowmobilers and other outdoor enthusiasts to think twice before entering the backcountry.

Winds and heavy snowfall have loaded up a weak pre-existing snow pack.

"Let some of these layers start to gain strength. Have a little patience," avalanche forecaster Craig Gordon said. "Snow is a very dynamic medium and it’s always changing. Be informed. If you’re planning to go into the backcountry get current information so you can make educated decisions."

Until now there hasn’t been much snow in the Uinta and Wasatch Mountains. But backcountry travelers shouldn’t be mislead.

"With additional snow and wind [Thursday] coupled with more snow expected over the next couple of days we expect the avalanche danger to increase," avalanche forecaster Brett Kobernik said. "The danger will most likely reach high Friday or Saturday."

Slide danger in Summit County this week was considerable, which means human-triggered avalanches are likely, Gordon said.

Skiers and snowboarders should avoid the backcountry this weekend by staying within the boundaries of the resorts. A 300-foot-wide avalanche a skier intentionally triggered Jan. 20 near Scotts Peak in the Park City area was about 600 feet long.

Mixing the excitement about the new snow with high avalanche danger makes a possible recipe for disaster, according to Kobernik.

The Utah Avalanche Center forecasts slide advisories daily for the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains at (888) 999-4019 or http://www.utahavalanchecenter.org.


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