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Snowboarder escapes safely in human-triggered avalanche

By Celeste Tholen Rosenlof | Posted - Dec. 19, 2012 at 5:39 p.m.


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PARK CITY — After triggering an avalanche, a snowboarder narrowly escaped the dangerous slabs of snow.

A snowboarder on the Dutch Draw peak, to the south of the Canyons Ski Resort 9990 run, triggered the avalanche about 12 p.m. Wednesday. The peak is outside of the ski resort boundaries and considered backcountry.

According to Craig Gordon, an avalanche forecaster with the Utah Forest Service Avalanche Center, the snowboarder was mid-slope and was able to ride the avalanche down the slope safely.

"It's quite unusual for someone to be able to ski or ride off of an avalanche of this size," Gordon said.

Caution is advised to skiers and snowboarders, however, as such is not often the case.

"It's an area that we are always concerned about," said Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmonds. "There is no avalanche control that goes on there, it is clearly out of bounds. If you go up there, you do so at your own peril. But everybody knows that, and it is well signed."

Summit County emergency crews deployed all Search and Rescue deputies to the area, but later found nobody was caught in the snow. Witnesses confirmed the snowboarder was the only person on the slope as teams searched the area with probes and dogs.

"We have nothing to believe that people are buried," Edmonds said early Wednesday afternoon. "We are doing all of our due diligence."

According to Edmonds, nine people were in the area at the time.

Edmonds said that the recent storm left as much as 100 inches of powder on top of weak snow pack on the ridge, causing considerable avalanche conditions on the peak. Avalanche conditions throughout Northern Utah are considerable as well.

The Utah Avalanche Center recommends avoiding steep terrain outside of ski resorts, especially high-elevation and windy areas. Gordon reminds riders to always check avalanche conditions before they head out, especially to back country.

Photo credit: Ryan Cutter

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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof

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