One injured in avalanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Posted at 10:57 AM, Dec 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-24 23:23:18-05

ALTA, Utah -- One person was injured in an avalanche Wednesday morning in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

According to the Utah Avalanche Center, the victim was a skier who was partially buried in the Upper Days Fork area. Officials said the man suffered an open fracture to his leg. A medical helicopter was dispatched to take the victim to a hospital.

"We know that there was one backcountry skier that was caught and carried in a very steep chute that we commonly call 'Jaws' up there. It's off of the Cottonwood Ridgeline," said Drew Hardesty, Utah Avalanche Center. "Initial reports have the skier caught and carried partially, maybe fully, buried, but extricated by his companions."

Officials told FOX 13 News' Todd Tanner the victim is a 46-year-old man who was buried beneath about 3 feet of snow. He reportedly triggered the avalanche while skiing.

Two of the man's friends were in the area and had already made it to the bottom when the avalanche triggered. They had probes and beacons, and they had the man dug out of the snow in less than five minutes. Those two were assisted by another group of six people who were in the area. The man was reportedly not breathing after being dug out, but he started breathing on his own without CPR a short time later.

The man is expected to make a full recovery.

Based on his knowledge of the area and current conditions, Hardesty estimated the avalanche is one to three feet deep and 50 to 75 feet wide.

"The danger today is considerable, which means natural avalanches are not likely, but, really, the mousetrap is set for people to jump into the steep west and north to southeast facing terrain and this is the case here," Hardesty said.

Watch FOX 13 News and for updates.