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No injuries after human-triggered avalanche at Alta; Utah marks second year without a fatal slide

Posted at 6:26 PM, May 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-13 20:26:07-04

UTAH -- A skier or snowboarder is safe after the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) says the person triggered a 1,000-foot slide at Alta ski resort Sunday.

The resort is closed for the season, but spring skiers are still taking advantage of the snow.

And the UAC warned conditions are unstable because of recent snow storms that were followed by sunny days.

Sunday evening, Jarrett Moe and his friends packed up after a successful day in the backcountry. He said they had a good time, but this time of year can be "a little more nerve racking" because of conditions.

"We did have some snow move on us," Moe said. "It was manageable. We were able to just use safe practices and avoid anything really dangerous."

They could see what was left from when the skier triggered the 1,000-foot avalanche.

Craig Gordon, avalanche forecaster for the UAC, said no one was caught in the slide. Gordon pointed out at that slide and others visible from the road.

"This recent activity, well, it's indicative to unstable snow," Gordon said.

He said one reason behind the instability—this season was the second driest on record in 84 years.

Gordon said the first driest season on record was the winter of 1976-1977. That mean a series of problems all winter long, Gordon indicated.

"An incredibly active avalanche year—lots of close calls, near misses," Gordon said. "Fortunately here in Utah, second year back-to-back, no backcountry avalanche fatalities."

This would mark the second year in 27 years.

While no one died in avalanches in Utah, two Utahns were killed in avalanches this season. Both incidents occurred in Wyoming, one in December and one in February.

Gordon said this season isn't over yet, and he reminded backcountry enthusiasts to carry proper avalanche safety equipment and be prepared for unstable conditions.