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‘Hazards’ concern for early season backcountry skiers & riders

Posted at 5:15 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 15:12:10-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Upwards of 30 inches of snow have fallen in some areas in the Wasatch Mountains with those eager for powder already hiking in to take advantage.

Utah Avalanche Center has been observing the conditions and heeds warning for those taking some early season turns.

“You don’t want to ruin your season before it gets started,” said Craig Gordon with the Utah Avalanche Center. “Rocks and deadfall and stumps and slamming into those objects I mean that’s probably the biggest hazard right now.”

UAC anticipates a busy winter season following suit from a busy summer with more people flocking to the mountains during the pandemic.

“Sometimes our avalanche awareness skills don’t really keep up with our ski or riding or snowmobile skills so we’ve got to think about toning it down a little bit,” said Gordon. “Actually, we saw a huge uptick in human-triggered avalanches, close calls and near-misses so that’s the exact thing we want to avoid.”

From January 2019 to January 2020 season, six deaths stemmed from avalanches in Utah. Four of the six were snowmobilers.

With hopes of preventing an avalanche in the first place and knowing what to do with your gear, Utah Avalanche Center is holding virtual workshops apart of the 13th annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop.