Avalanche near Salt Lake City kills skier, injures another
January 23, 2016
A 49-year-old Sugar House man died Thursday after being buried in an avalanche in Gobbler’s Knob, near Salt Lake City.
At around 2:30 p.m., Douglas Green was skiing with an unidentified 50-year-old man on Whitesnake run when he was killed in the slide, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. Gobbler’s Knob is located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest near Big Cottonwood and Millcreek canyons.
The other man was partially buried and transported via medical helicopter to a hospital in the Salt Lake City area. Salt Lake County Officer Brandon Brockbank said an update on the man’s condition was not available.
The men were individually making turns down the mountain, when Green began the descent of a second pitch and collapsed the slope, triggering the avalanche, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.
The slide began near the ridgeline and grew to nearly 200 feet wide before carrying Green several hundred feet. He was able to inflate his avalanche airbag, but continued to be carried down the run. The other man was hit by debris and pushed into a tree where he was partially buried.
The skier was able to ski down and conduct a beacon search to locate Green, who was found without a pulse. Both were transported to the hospital where Green was pronounced deceased.
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Earlier in the week, a skier had been caught in an avalanche along the Park City ridgeline.
At around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said the dispatch center received a report of a skier-triggered avalanche witnessed by a Park City Mountain Resort ski patrol employee in the MacDonald’s Draw on the Big Mac run. The two-foot-deep avalanche reportedly carried the skier, who did not sustain any injuries, "for a while." No information was available about the skier.
The report states the ski patrol estimated the snow sheet to be approximately 75 to 100 feet wide and to have traveled approximately 200 feet.
According to the Utah Avalanche Center’s Twitter page, "another close call" occurred in the same area less than an hour later. The tweet said it occurred on a north-facing slope and described the terrain as "a death trap."
After issuing the warning, the Avalanche Center’s Twitter page posted a string of tweets advising people to avoid being near or beneath any slopes steeper than 30 degrees, "even small slopes." However, the warnings do not apply to ski areas where "avalanche hazard reduction measures are performed," according to the Avalanche Center’s website.
The sounds of controlled avalanches being triggered echoed throughout Park City Thursday less than a day after an avalanche warning was issued for the backcountry. Several human-triggered avalanches were reported at the higher elevations along the Wasatch Back and Front.
"In general right now, especially with the storm and strong winds, the avalanche danger is very high," Craig Cordon, an avalanche forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center, said on Wednesday. "We have encouraged all backcountry users to stay off of and out from under steep slopes and particularly those facing the north half of the compass."
Gordon said there "has been plenty of avalanche activity this season" as snow storms have left accumulations of several feet of snow in their wake within the last few weeks.
"We are not saying stay out of the backcountry, just stay out from under steep slopes," Gordon said. "That still offers a lot of terrain that you can go out and enjoy. We are just alerting travelers that avalanche danger is elevated and are trying to give them some travel advice so they can still go out.
"People just need to tone down their objectives or slope angles," Gordon said. ‘There is plenty of great skiing and riding to be had."
For more information about snowpack and current conditions, go to https://utahavalanchecenter.org/ or follow the Utah Avalanche Center on Twitter @UACwasatch.