LOCAL NEWS

Skier shares story, video of close call with avalanche near Provo

Mar 13, 2022, 10:30 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:25 pm

UTAH COUNTY — An Orem man is recounting the moments an avalanche nearly swept him down a mountain near Provo Canyon. Incredible video shows the close call as he shares what he learned to anyone headed into the backcountry.

The message comes after the Utah Avalanche Center saw 25 slides reported between Friday and Sunday, most triggered by people.

A skier and a snowmobiler were buried and dug out, while others experienced close calls.

Matt Galland understands these experiences firsthand after what happened to him on Monday, March 7.

Galland and two of his friends headed up to the South Fork area in Provo Canyon, and he described how they took every safety precaution possible — starting with checking avalanche conditions before they headed out.

“It was a green/yellow day through terrain that we’d be traveling through,” Galland said.

That said, he added that he knows conditions can be variable wherever you are.

They mitigated any potential issues, he further explained, by staying off big slopes and not going up as high.

“We took all the precautions: avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, helmet, airbag, testing as we went up,” Galland said.

He said they noticed some tricky spots with a weak layer showing in some areas, with snow loaded differently in various other areas. But other than that, everything looked good.

For one of the slopes they decided to hit, Galland described how they made a route to ski down and split the slope up into three sections at a time.

The first section was safe and fine, he said, at less than 30 degrees.

When they made it to the second section, which was near 30 degrees and steeper, he said his friend did a ski cut to test the snow and try to predict where any unstable snow may be.

“Nothing, no cracking. No whoomphing, no collapsing of layers,” Galland recounted. “It sounded good, felt good and he skied across it pretty aggressively, and then skied down.”

Galland’s friend made it down that second section and found a safe place to wait. As Galland started down, he ended up just above the ski cut.

All of a sudden, his friend begins yelling.

“Oh, Matt! Matt! Matt!” the friend calls out, watching from the top. The slope cracked and a wall of snow begins cascading down.

“I could see the crack, the slab release right in front of my feet,” Galland remembered.

In GoPro footage captured by both Galland and his friend, Galland is buried for a moment before his blue jack pops out of the white.

(Matt Galland)

His friend keeps eyes on Galland, moving to another spot. Galland slips out of the slide and holds on.

“I was able to get out of the, you know, off the slab and kind of dig my hands in and hold myself there,” Galland said.

He used his avalanche whistle to alert his friend downslope and yelled his friend’s name. Galland said his friend was his biggest worry. The friend yells back that he’s okay.

Galland explained that he’s been a backcountry skier for 25 years, skiing 80 to 100 days a year. He described himself as skiing conservatively, usually only on green days, yellow at the most.

He’s never seen or triggered an avalanche before.

In the moment the slide broke, Galland indicated that he immediately thought about how he and his friends all knew what to do, with proper training and gear, and it gave him relief.

Thankfully, everyone was okay. Galland later flew over the slide in a helicopter, understanding the scope of the avalanche, and knowing what could have happened if he didn’t escape.

“It was just Mother Nature reminding us, ‘I’m super powerful. I’ll always win, eventually, if you test me. And, respect me and my boundaries,’” he said.

Galland is hoping Mother Nature’s message for him is one everyone can learn from and think of the next time they head to the backcountry.

He said he’ll ski again, but with a renewed commitment that it’s okay to dial back, say “no,” and always remember that it’s a dangerous sport, even on green days.

Which is why he is now urging the importance of taking every safety precaution before heading out.

“Are you willing to accept the consequences that come with, naturally, with backcountry skiing? And if you’re not, don’t go,” Galland said. “And if you are, well, then be as safe as you can possibly be and have a good time living life rather than being afraid of it.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

The Jeffs enjoyed traveling the world. Now, their trips are closer to home. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)...
Ken Fall

Brain health: When memory issues should become cause for concern

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. While subtle changes in our memory can be a normal sign of aging, some forgetfulness may signal it’s time to visit a doctor. Here’s how to tell the difference.
14 hours ago
...
Karah Brackin

Utah man upset about being kicked out of SLC yoga studio fires gun in multiple cities

Police are investigating after a man upset about being kicked out of a Salt Lake City yoga studio fired multiple shots across the Salt Lake Valley Wednesday.
14 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

#walkTODAY Wednesday with Casey Scott at Daybreak

Casey Scott was out walking Wednesday morning in Daybreak along with producer Sam from 103.5 FM The Arrow as part of our 30-day #walkTODAY challenge.
14 hours ago
...
Andrew Adams

Family members remember Utah woman killed in Idaho crash

Family members on Tuesday were remembering a Utah woman killed in a weekend crash that also left her father critically injured. 
2 days ago
Utah Rep. Burgess Owens. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)...
LINDSAY WHITEHURST and SAM METZ Associated Press

All 4 Utah House incumbents win GOP primaries

All four members of the U.S. House from Utah defeated Republican primary challengers Tuesday.
2 days ago
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) leaves the U.S. Capitol on April 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Senate r...
SAM METZ and LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

Sen. Mike Lee fends off 2 opponents to win Utah GOP primary

Sen. Mike Lee has won Utah’s Republican primary by fending off attacks from two challengers who didn’t vote for former President Donald Trump in 2020.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Skier shares story, video of close call with avalanche near Provo