Man taken to hospital after he was buried by an avalanche near Solitude

Mar 12, 2022, 3:19 PM | Updated: 10:51 pm

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — A 55-year-old man is in critical but stable condition after authorities say he was buried in an avalanche up Big Cottonwood Canyon Saturday afternoon.

The incident happened in the East Bowl area, near Silver Fork, around 12:15 p.m.

Wayne Bassham, a Salt Lake County Search and Rescue team member, told KSL a group of eight people was skiing in the backcountry and were pretty down the end of the slope when the avalanche occurred.

One person, a 55-year-old man, was caught, carried, and buried in the avalanche, which was approximately 100 feet wide and ran 400 vertical feet.

Bassham said the other group members used beacons and probes to locate the man underneath the snow. Once they located the trapped skier, they immediately started to uncover him.

Solitude Mountain Patrol was dispatched and responded to the area within five minutes.

After spending approximately 23 minutes trapped in a meter and a half of snow, according to Bassham, the man was pulled out.

He was then flown to the hospital in a LifeFlight helicopter.

(Salt Lake County Sheriff's Search and Rescue) (Salt Lake County Sheriff's Search and Rescue)

Crews were still on scene as of 3 p.m., according to Det. Kevin Mallory with the Unified Police Department, helping the remaining members of the group safely get out of the area.

State Route 190 was temporarily closed near milepost 12 while rescue efforts were conducted. The roadway has since reopened.

“In any circumstance, you know, skiing, there’s always that risk, especially this time of year as we see temperatures start to warm up a little bit with fresh snowpack — always increases the risk of avalanches. So, you know, just be prepared with beacons and proper equipment and whatnot,” Mallory said.

An investigation is underway by the Utah Avalanche Center to determine what triggered the avalanche.

The incident comes a day after the agency issued a warning about avalanche conditions across the state.

“We are very worried that a serious avalanche accident could occur this weekend.”

Utah Avalanche Center issues warning for this weekend

NOTE: The 55-year-old skier is in critical but stable condition following the incident up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Earlier reports indicated his condition was not as serious.

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Man taken to hospital after he was buried by an avalanche near Solitude