SALT LAKE CITY — Elisabeth Malloy is in fair condition at University Hospital after being saved by her boyfriend during an avalanche in Porter Fork Saturday.
Malloy, 43, and her boyfriend were backcountry skiing when they triggered an avalanche on the steep slope.
"It all happens very, very quickly and if you get buried under the snow, you don't have very long to live," Utah Avalanche Center Director Bruce Tremper.
In a blog post, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue said Malloy lost equipment in the incident, including a ski and boot, all during minus 10 degree temperatures.
Avalanche forecasters say Malloy would have had 10 to 15 minutes to survive under the snow. Had her boyfriend not been prepared with the appropriate gear, the outcome could have been more tragic.
"They were carrying rescue gear, electronic avalanche beacons, shovels, probes — which was really good cause that's the only way you can locate somebody who's buried underneath snow in time to save their life."
Mallory received an injury to her head in the avalanche.
He says with the current conditions, human-triggered avalanches are likely. Over the past 10 days, the snowpack developed a weak layer on the surface that Tremper described as a "house of cards."
"Everybody that was out was reporting lots of collapsing snow," he said. "They'd be traveling along on their skies or snowmobiles and then you can the whole snow pack go, 'caoomph,' and the whole thing collapses and you see the snow shaking all over the place."
He says people need to consider the danger of the snowpack and the danger of the terrain, and that avalanche conditions are likely to continue for the next week.