Four Skiers Rescued After Triggering Avalanche Near Pfeifferhorn Peak

Mar 14, 2021, 12:10 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2021, 5:14 am

ALPINE, Utah — Crews on Sunday responded after four skiers were involved in an avalanche on the ridge line of Alpine and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The incident happened near Pfeifferhorn Peak shortly before 11:30 a.m.

It took rescue crews about seven hours total to reach the skiers who were partially buried by the avalanche.

Utah County Search and Rescue and Salt Lake County Search and Rescue responded to the area, while the Department of Public Safety and Life Flight assisted with aerial operations.

Avalanche danger was just too high to go in by ground and high winds made an air rescue tricky, but after a long day, all four skiers made it safely down the mountain.

The four men caught in the slide were in their mid-20s. Authorities said all of them were experienced backcountry skiers.

“They said there wasn’t very much — maybe 20 or 30 feet above them that came down — but it was enough to catch them up and send them over some edges and fortunately, they didn’t get buried,” said Cannon.

No one was buried, but two of the men were hurt — one with a broken leg, the other with a broken ankle.

It would’ve taken them more than eight hours to hike back out, and there’s no way that was happening.

“Several things became a problem there,” said Cannon. “There was still avalanche risk in the area where they ended up.”

Rescuers decided that going in by helicopter was the best option. They attempted multiple times, but high winds wouldn’t allow them to get close enough. Eventually, they caught a break.

“What looked like it could turn into a long, protracted operation, maybe even going into the morning hours, we had some good fortune here in getting a break in the weather. The winds slowed down, the clouds lifted and they were able to get down there,” said Cannon.

One by one, rescuers brought all four skiers to safety, where their loved ones were waiting for them.

“They’re very fortunate to get out as relatively unscathed as they did,” said Cannon.

The White Pine Trailhead in Little Cottonwood Canyon was temporarily closed during the search and rescue mission.

So far in 2021, there have been four fatal avalanches in Utah and one in Southeast Idaho. A total of eight people have been killed.

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Four Skiers Rescued After Triggering Avalanche Near Pfeifferhorn Peak