Backcountry skier seriously injured in avalanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Posted at 3:42 PM, Jan 26, 2018

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah -- A backcountry skier is in serious condition after he was caught in an avalanche in the Silver Fork Canyon area of Big Cottonwood Canyon Friday.

Unified Police say three backcountry skiers were in the Silver Fork Canyon area near Solitude Ski Resort when the avalanche occurred around 3:30 p.m.

One skier was caught in the slide and rolled 200 to 300 feet. He was partially buried but managed to keep his head above the snow, UPD Detective Ken Hansen said.

That skier, a 52-year-old man from Park City, suffered a head injury, was airlifted out of the canyon and is in serious condition.

Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) forecaster Craig Gordon said the group was extremely experienced and took every precaution in the backcountry terrain.

He said the three skiers had already taken seven runs down the slope, when the man triggered the avalanche.

"The snowpack that we're dealing with right now is problematic," he said.

Since January 9, Gordon said, the UAC's seen more than a dozen close calls, near misses and partial burials.

"We are dodging lots of bullets," Gordon said. "These are very experienced people that are getting caught and getting tricked. This is a very unusual snowpack for the mountains of northern Utah."

This avalanche comes after a skier triggered a slide on the Park City Ridgeline on Wednesday, and an avalanche swept up another skier at Snowbasin Resort on Sunday.

Right now, the avalanche danger in the backcountry is listed at "considerable." Click here to see the latest conditions and forecasts.