Overdue skier found dead in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Jan 20, 2022, 7:42 AM | Updated: 2:02 pm

ALTA, Utah — Police say search and rescue crews located the body of an overdue skier was who reported missing in the Grizzly Gulch area Wednesday night.

Sgt. Melody Cutler with the Unified Police Department said the 68-year-old man, who was an experienced backcountry skier, told his employees he would check-in at 3 p.m. Wednesday, but he never did. Cutler said Unified police didn’t get the call from Alta about the missing skier until close to 9 p.m. They started their search right away and continued until about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

“Temperatures obviously well below freezing, which is a definite concern,” Cutler said. “Ice, the cliffs — all those dangers that exist in the backcountry.”

When they picked up the search again after 7 a.m., they were still hopeful his experience and equipment would help him get through.

The Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter assisted in the search, and authorities said the man’s body was located around 9:22 a.m. When crews reached him by skis, they found he was already dead.

The circumstances and timing surrounding his death are still under investigation. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death. But Cutler said it’s a sad reminder: don’t wait to report. “Just really important that if someone’s not back when they say they’re going to be let us know,” she said. “Earlier is always better. We would rather come out and have somebody come off the mountain on their own than not be able to locate them at all.”

Crews closed Grizzly Gulch just after 6:30 a.m. Thursday for the search and rescue operations. It had reopened by noon Thursday.

The Utah Avalanche Center said the incident was not avalanche related.

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