Rescue Groups Warn Of Increased Avalanche Danger

Feb 5, 2020, 8:10 PM | Updated: Jun 16, 2022, 11:35 pm
(KSL TV)...

SALT LAKE CITY – Several rescue groups held a press conference to call attention to an increase in the potential for avalanche danger in the back country, ahead of another winter storm expected to roll in early Thursday morning.

Officials from the Utah Department of Safety, Utah Avalanche Center and Wasatch Backcountry Rescue came together to talk about avalanche safety at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Search dogs Piper and Jasper were also at the press conference. Julia Edwards from Wasatch Backcountry Rescue owned one of the dogs.

“They’re incredibly friendly,” she said. “They’re good girls.”

The dogs were put in a helicopter for pictures. It was a great photo op, but as much as you might like dogs, hopefully you never need these two.

Piper and Jasper have been  trained to sniff out people who are buried under snow from an avalanche. Hopefully, though, it never comes to that.

Edwards said the put in a lot of effort, hoping the need for their services never arises.

“We train, we work hard, but when we’re called in, things haven’t gone right,” said Edwards. “Fundamentally, we don’t want to have to be called in.”

Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Craig Gordon has been talking about avalanche preparedness for the last 20 years.

“(Our) main emphasis is avalanche awareness, and more importantly, avalanche avoidance,” said Gordon.

He said the best way to avoid an avalanche is to be aware of where they could be.

Of course, if you’re caught in one, it’s just as important to know what gear is needed to get out of a dangerous situation. 

“You definitely want to be prepared for your own self-rescue,” said Gordon. “That means wearing and knowing how to use an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe.”

He said it also helps to be with someone who has the same gear and knows how to use it.

Bret Hutchings, a helicopter pilot for Utah’s Department of Public Safety, said to be prepared before an avalanche is triggered.

“The time to learn how to use the gear is not during the avalanche. It’s prior to,” he said.

Hutchings said he’s seen too often what avalanches do, especially in the past year.

“We’ve had three fatal snowmobilers and one fatal skier,” he said.

By the time the helicopter is brought out for an avalanche, it’s most likely for a recovery.

“(The) bottom line is you have to ask yourself – is that line you’re going to high-mark on your sled, or you’re going to take on your board or your skis – is it really worth your life?” he said. 

“Our dogs are amazing tools, but they’re not a replacement for a beacon, shovel, probe, and a partner who knows how to use it,” said Edwards.

Visit the Utah Avalanche Center online for the latest avalanche conditions throughout Utah.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

Two members of USU Aviation program killed in plane crash

Two people died Friday morning in a small airplane crash in Cache County.
1 day ago
Chris Jensen and Chris Wharton have been married for six years....
Mike Anderson

LGBTQ+ community concerned Supreme Court could revisit same-sex marriage

An opinion filed by Justice Clarence Thomas has some people concerned over whether the Supreme Court could reconsider other past rulings, including same-sex marriage and contraception.
1 day ago
Erin Cox

Faith leaders: Abortion conversation has changed, not religious stances

KSL's Erin Cox spoke one-on-one with some of Utah's most influential faith leaders about how their stances on abortion have not changed, but the conversations surrounding them have.
1 day ago
Shara Park

Two Utah Olympians experience ride of a lifetime with Air Force Thunderbirds

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds gave a “Hometown Hero” ride of a lifetime to two of Utah’s Olympians Friday as final preparations are underway for this weekend’s Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show at Hill Air Force Base.
1 day ago
FILE: Image of a pregnant woman. (Deseret News, Sara Reid)...
Ashley Moser

Does Utah adequately fund support for women with unwanted pregnancies?

The number one reason Utah women seek an abortion is socioeconomic, according to statistics from the Utah Department of Health. As KSL's Ashley Moser explains, experts say there are policies lawmakers should consider right now to help women financially.
1 day ago
The Utah State Capitol on Friday, March 25 when the Utah House and Senate voted to overturn a veto....
Larry D. Curtis

BREAKING: Abortion now prohibited in Utah

The Utah law prohibiting abortion, with some exceptions, is now part of Utah legal code according to a notice sent from the Utah State Legislature Friday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Rescue Groups Warn Of Increased Avalanche Danger