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Considerable avalanche danger in Utah's backcountry this weekend

Posted at 10:35 PM, Dec 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-19 00:35:15-05

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — Multiple avalanches were reported to the Utah Avalanche Center on Saturday.

With a total of nine slides in areas around the state, the Avalanche Center is worried about conditions.

“We're seeing issues in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon and upper Big Cottonwood Canyon right now. So it wasn't a problem until last week we got a bunch of new snow and it's sitting in those elevations and those aspects that allowed the old snow to stay," said Nikki Champion, a forecaster with the UAC.

WATCH: Skier shares video, experience of getting caught, buried in Utah avalanche

Of the nine slides, two were natural, six were human-caused, and one's cause is not yet known.

“Human-triggered avalanches are likely, so if you enter into avalanche train on the aspects that have that persistent weak layer,” Champion said, “you're likely to trigger an avalanche, and that's exactly what happened.”

Here is a list of the slides that were triggered Saturday:

12/18/2021Avalanche: GobblersSalt LakeUnknown2'100'
12/18/2021Accident: Tri ChutesSalt LakeSkier2'30'
12/18/2021Avalanche: Upper DaysSalt LakeSnowboarder4'900'
12/18/2021Avalanche: Cardiff BowlSalt LakeSkier4'100'
12/18/2021Avalanche: Intermediate RidgeSalt LakeNatural3'70'
12/18/2021Avalanche: SpireSalt LakeSkier2'50'
12/18/2021Avalanche: Scotts BowlSalt LakeSnowboarder5'600'
12/18/2021Avalanche: Wolf Creek BowlUintasNatural3'100'
12/18/2021Avalanche: Cardiff BowlSalt LakeSkier8'700'

Video of the aftermath of the one in Scotts Bowl was posted to the page as well by another forecaster.

Pictures of all of the others show the paths they took and the power these avalanches have.

The most severe avalanche of the day was in the Upper Days area, where a snowboarder reported that their group got caught up and had to deploy their airbags to stay above it.

That avalanche measured about 900 feet wide.

With more snow on the way, the center is worried about it compounding the problem.

"We don't know what the tipping point is going to be for these facets that we're going to start seeing big natural avalanches or anything like that," Champmion added. "We just know if you add more snow and you add more wind, the avalanche danger is going to rise.”

UAC puts out an avalanche danger forecast every morning, which can be found on the center's website.

As of Saturday night, the majority of the state's backcountry areas are listed as considerable risk.