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Officials Warn of Avalanche Danger

Officials Warn of Avalanche Danger

Posted - Feb. 27, 2004 at 4:04 p.m.



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Kim Johnson ReportingPark City Police released the name of the Texas man killed in an avalanche around 6:30 yesterday evening; he is 34-year old Jason Delecour of San Antonio, TX.

Jason and his friend, Mathew Webb, of Park City had gone snowshoeing in the upper part of Daly Canyon when the avalanche broke. Webb was also caught in the slide, but was able to free himself and go for help.

Avalanche forecasters have a word to the wise today. Go ahead and play outdoors, but unless you know what you're doing, stay out of the backcountry and have fun at the resorts.

Crews will be blasting the slopes with cannons this weekend, making resort slopes the safest place to play. Outdoor experts say if you want to play outside resort boundaries, look for a gentle slope.

Bruce Tremper, the director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, says in the 70's and 80's, hardcore telemark skiers were usually responsible for starting avalanches in the backcountry. But that changed.

Bruce Tremper: "Then it started being snowmobilers, snow-shoers, snowboarders, and that's what it's been more recently. More of a casual user that knows maybe a little bit less about avalanches is the demographic we're seeing these days."

Not knowing enough about the outdoors costs people their lives every year. Three young snowboarders died in December when a slide cut loose in Provo Canyon. Two of the bodies have not yet been found. It took rescuers at least an hour and half to recover the Texas man who lost his life in Daly Canyon last night.

Bruce Tremper: “It was down low, right behind one of the mine buildings, in a little narrow gully in what we call a terrain trap. Sounds like the avalanche wasn't particularly large. He just triggered a small avalanche that comes into a very small gully and fills it up very deeply."

Tremper says, while he advocates playing in the great outdoors, he worries for those who will head for the hills this weekend.

Bruce Tremper: “We haven't seen this much weight of snow since Christmas. So if there's any weak layers out there, this new weight is going to find it, and there's going to be some very big avalanches this weekend, we're guessing."

For those who do head to the backcountry, this three pronged advice: Contact the avalanche forecast center, find out about the area you'll be playing in; wear a beacon so if you happen to get buried your companions can find you; and allow one person at a time to head into the hazard zone, the other people in the party should wait off to the side so they can dig someone out if a slide breaks loose.

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