Avalanche breaks in backcountry of Millcreek Canyon; no injuries reported

Jan 2, 2022, 6:38 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:37 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY — A large avalanche broke Sunday afternoon in a popular backcountry area up Millcreek Canyon.

Trent Meisenheiner, an avalanche forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center, said it occurred on top of Little Water Peak on a run called Fire Water.

The avalanche was described as approximately six to 12 feet deep and a few hundred feet wide.

Meisenheiner’s colleague and fellow avalanche forecaster, Craig Gordon, said because there were tracks around the avalanche and on the ridge, they needed to figure out if anyone was caught in the massive slide.

No one had reported the avalanche, which led to worries that it buried a person or people.

“Some first responders in the air did a fly over, got some eyes on it, and right now, we’re deeming that there was nobody involved in it,” Gordon explained.

He added that this latest slide comes after an unstable 36 hours in the backcountry, with multiple large slides reported following two weeks of snowstorms.

Those slides were triggered naturally, he said, but occurred in popular backcountry spots, and indicate just how dangerous conditions are in certain areas.

“If someone were to trigger an avalanche of this magnitude — I mean, they’re breaking deeper than I am tall, they’re several football fields wide — these are completely un-survivable avalanches,” Gordon warned.

He said north-facing, steep slopes are the greatest concern right now.

In addition to natural avalanche activity, he mentioned how ski patrols have been triggering slides during explosive mitigation inside ski resort boundaries.

A sizable slide was recorded at Alta Ski Area during mitigation work on Sunday.

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Avalanche breaks in backcountry of Millcreek Canyon; no injuries reported