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Human-Triggered Avalanches Set Record

Human-Triggered Avalanches Set Record

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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- Skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers have triggered 62 avalanches in northern Utah since December 17th.

That makes for the most active avalanche season in the 22 years records have been kept.

Utah Avalanche Center director Bruce Tremper says he's never seen so many human-triggered avalanches in 17 years on the job.

They have been concentrated in the Wasatch Range, whose easy access draws backcountry enthusiasts. They are in addition to hundreds of natural avalanches and controlled slides at ski resorts.

Three of the avalanches were triggered by snowmobilers, the rest by skiers and snowboarders.

No one has died in a Utah avalanche this season, but half a dozen people have been injured and two were completely buried before being dug out.

Utah typically sees several avalanche deaths each winter.

It has been a season of avalanches despite a lower-than-average snowpack. One heavy layer of snow that fell in mid-December settled on a brittle, glasslike layer of snow that rotted in clear November weather.

Tremper says that created a dangerously weak snowpack.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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