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

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Posted at 10:37 PM, Dec 17, 2021

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — A skier managed to escape without any major injuries after being caught and buried in an avalanche Friday.

The skier who triggered the avalanche and ended up underneath it shared a video of the incident and their account of what happened with the Utah Avalanche Center, who then shared it "so that we may all learn from this accident."

Jon (no last name provided) was the third person of his group of three to ski down a backcountry slope in the "Football Field" or "Meadow Chutes" area of Silver Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

The first two skiers went down the slope one at a time. Then, as Jon was skiing, he went over a "breakover" and saw cracks in the snow shooting out.

He thought he could outrun the slide, but he was caught up and carried into a group of small trees. He was completely buried, but could still move his arm and managed to clear room to breathe.

His fellow skiers rushed back to Jon using "uphill mode" and climbing skins on their skis. They reached him in about 10 minutes and helped him dig himself out. No outside help was needed, and his only injuries were a few scratches.

The UAC said a short time before going down, the group felt the snowpack collapse underneath them. Despite recognizing that as a bad sign, they continued with their plans.

"All of us at the Utah Avalanche Center has had our own close calls and know how easy it is to make mistakes," the UAC wrote.

However, the group of skiers did several things correctly that are essential when skiing in the backcountry: The UAC said they all had avalanche safety gear (including radios), they read and listened to the avalanche forecast, and they were familiar with the area.

More details on the slide, including data, photos, location information and more, can be found on the UAC's website.