High Avalanche Warning Issued For Utah’s Backcountry

Feb 15, 2021, 7:02 PM | Updated: 8:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Avalanche forecasters have once again put out a warning for those going into the Utah backcountry. They said depending on the storm, conditions could go from high to extreme.

It all has to do with the amount of snow that could fall on top of the existing snowpack between Monday and Tuesday.

“That means deep, dangerous tree-snapping avalanches are certain. We want to stay out from underneath any large avalanche paths, run out zones, no matter what we are doing,” said Craig Gordon, a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center. “We have to be armed with the latest avalanche forecast for the area that we plan to go.”

The snow fall over the weekend brought the crowds out to the canyons on President’s Day. Ski resort parking lots were full, like at Solitude where anxious skiers couldn’t wait to enjoy the fresh powder.

“Finally, we’ve been needing this all winter,” said David Colvin as he was preparing to take his first run. “I think it’s awesome. It’s going to be a good day.”

“I’m excited to ski Summit Lift because it normally has the best powder,” said David’s son, Rainier.

Jeff Carroll, director of sales and marketing at Solitude, said they are expecting as much as 40” of snow by the end of next weekend.

“The conditions are fantastic,” said Carroll. “This is great. The timing right now is perfect”

KSL caught up with Steve Hales and Grant Crowell as they were coming off the mountain near Spruces Campground up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Both are experienced back country skiers who have all the right equipment including, beacons, shovels, radios and special gauges to tell how steep the slopes are.

“It was great, soft snow,” said Hales of their morning runs on the mountain.

But with two deadly avalanches taking the lives of five skiers in two weekends, Hales and Crowell said they used those gauges to make sure they stayed far away from anything more than a 30 degree slope.

“Anything above 30 is pretty dangerous right now,” said Crowell.

“We discussed before we left where we wanted to go,” said Hales.

Their families also chimed in to make sure they didn’t cross into the danger zone.

“More cautious. Our family has talked to us about it to. Everyone is concerned,” said Crowell.

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High Avalanche Warning Issued For Utah’s Backcountry