The first skier-caused avalanche was reported Oct. 15 |

The first skier-caused avalanche was reported Oct. 15

Early season snow is enticing backcountry users to areas including the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, pictured. Despite the calendar saying October, skier-caused avalanches have already been reported.
Photo by Drew Hardesty

Winter has seemingly arrived in Park City, even though the calendar says October, and with the flakes have come the season’s first avalanches.

According to the Utah Avalanche Center, natural avalanches were spotted on the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 11, as snow accumulated quickly in a storm that brought 1-2 feet of snow to Little Cottonwood Canyon and up to a foot to the Park City ridgeline.

The first skier-caused avalanche of the season was reported on Friday in Albion Basin in Little Cottonwood Canyon, according to the center’s website. While the slide was relatively small and no one was apparently hurt, it was a reminder of the danger of enjoying backcountry turns even in early-season conditions.

Drew Hardesty, a U.S. Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center forecaster, said early-season accidents are common.

“It’s the classic line: If there’s enough snow to ride, there’s enough snow to slide,” he said.

He reminded backcountry users to always carry a beacon, shovel and probe. Experts also recommend traveling with a partner.

“Many people head in to yet-to-be-open ski areas early season, but they have to treat that terrain as the backcountry because it has a backcountry snowpack,” he said.

The nonprofit Utah Avalanche Center’s website includes avalanche reports, which are issued daily when the conditions warrant it, as well as links to backcountry educational opportunities.

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