Early gift, in form of a Ski-Doo | ParkRecord.com

Early gift, in form of a Ski-Doo

Christopher Kamrani, Of the Record staff

Craig Gordon’s first order of business is safety. It has to be, because after all, he is in charge of forecasting the avalanche activity for the Western Uinta Mountains

And this holiday season, he’s received a gracious gift from a willing donor.

The Utah Avalanche Center received a Ski-Doo snowmobile from Weller Recreation Inc. in Kamas in order to help forecasters study the terrain and snowpack in the Uintas.

"Having this snowmobile helps us in the big areas out there," Gordon said. "It helps us with outreach with the snowmobiling community, as well."

Gordon said the Uinta snowpack is different compared to other mountain ranges in the state, as it typically deals with less than consistent snowfall, colder temperatures and high winds.

Snowmobiles aren’t an uncommon sight in the range, and many avalanche-related incidents each year often involve a machine.

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"There are more (snowmobiles) out there," Gordon said. "Sometimes, people think their riding skills are much better than their avalanche skills. We’re helping to bridge that gap."

The inspiration to donate a "loaner sled" as Gordon put it, started three years ago when Weller took the first step and loaned out the first snowmobile to the UAC. The center wasn’t as fortunate last year as the downtrodden economy took a toll.

"We’re back on track now," Gordon said. "Credit to Weller’s. They stepped up."

Gordon was more adamant in saying that a donation of this magnitude will be especially helpful with their ultimate goal: to help save lives.

"It’s an enormous contribution," he said. "It helps us cover 100-times the terrain we could normally do on skis."

Gordon added that there is another snowmobile donated by Tri-City Performance Polaris, which allows more than one forecaster to head out and study the landscape with relative ease. He also said that covering additional terrain more frequently allows the UAC to produce more accurate forecasts regularly.

The UAC website (http://utahavalanchecenter.org/ ) is already up and running for daily avalanche warnings, and the toll-free number is in full swing, as well.

"No matter how we’re accessing these mountains, we have to spread adequate knowledge," Gordon said. "It’s totally a give-give situation."

Gordon went on to say that working on such an impressive machine helps swing open that door to fellow snowmobilers, who could be thrown off by a UAC member on a sled.

"It gives us a lot of street cred’," he said. "Riding up on a hot sled helps us break the ice. It helps us interface."

The forecaster couldn’t be more appreciative of the donation and he knows that when push comes to shove, this matter of goodwill will indeed make a difference.

"It’s great for both of us," Gordon said. "And the bottom-line is, it helps save lives."