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Officials recover body of Park City man who died in backcountry avalanche Saturday

(Erika Barger)


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PARK CITY β€” Officials on Sunday recovered the body of a Park City man who died in a Summit County backcountry avalanche the day before.

Kurt Damschroder, 57, was caught in the avalanche triggered while he and another skier were recreating in the Square Top area outside the Canyons Village area of Park City Mountain Resort.

Summit County Sheriff's Lt. Andrew Wright said Sunday that Damschroder's body was recovered about 11 a.m. Sunday after mitigation efforts made the area safer to approach. He was buried in about 4 feet of snow, Wright said.

He estimates the avalanche occurred about 3:10 p.m. Saturday, and it was first reported to officials at 3:26 p.m. Damschroder and his friend "had been in the backcountry earlier" Saturday and completed a few runs, Wright said, when they found themselves at Square Top.

Unsure about the safety of the run, Damschroder's friend stayed at the top of the hill while Damschroder tried it; his friend witnessed the avalanche and burial, Wright said.

Wright said Damschroder was "very prepared" with a beacon, a probe and shovel. "But as you know, a lot of snow coming down, you're at the mercy of the weight of that snow," Wright said. "I understand it carried him quite a ways down β€” several hundred yards, is what was described to me by investigators."

The friend was able to immediately call for help and found Damschroder within 10 or 15 minutes, Wright said, attempting CPR and lifesaving measures for more than an hour, but it was too late.

Officials began recover efforts on Saturday night, but suspended their efforts due to darkness and continued on Sunday morning.

Utah Avalanche Center spokesperson Mark Staples said the Square Top area is known for producing avalanches due to its steep and rocky conditions. Rescue personnel tried to determine the safest route to the victim without causing another avalanche. Staples said if there was one avalanche, another is likely.

"Our hearts and prayers are with Kurt's girlfriend and family," said Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez.

"Over the years, this is an area that's known to be very deadly," Wright said. He added that backcountry skiers should be cautious and pay attention to Utah Avalanche Center forecasts.

"Really, truly understand the risk that you have going into the backcountry like that, in areas where there's not avalanche control," he said. "We've had a lot of snow over the last week in the high elevations, so of course that risk went up. And of course, have the proper equipment, just as Kurt did. And you have to understand, if you get caught in an avalanche, sometimes that equipment's not enough. And that's exactly the case here."

This is the second fatal avalanche on backcountry Park City-area slopes this month.

Contributing: Garna Mejia, KSL TV

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