FAMILY SAFETY

Human-triggered avalanche in Little Cottonwood prompts warning

Oct 23, 2022, 10:22 PM | Updated: 10:27 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Barely through the first major winter storm of the season in mountains of the Wasatch Front, avalanche forecasters are already warning about the potential avalanche risk following a human-triggered avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon Sunday.

Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Craig Gordon said the human-triggered slide happened on Mount Baldy above Alta Ski Resort and it appeared nobody was injured.

“Along the leeward side of the upper elevations, right along the ridgelines, winds were pretty robust,” Gordon said. “They were definitely busy at work. They are creating drifts that are sensitive to our additional weight, so we definitely want to avoid that situation.”

Gordon said the potential risk at this time of year extended to people like hunters and hikers.

“We definitely want to be on our avalanche game,” he told KSL 5.

Ice piling up after first snow of the season on October 23, 2022. (Andrew Adams)

Gordon said even a small avalanche could prove to be devastating.

“It could push you over a cliff, slam you into some trees, or reveal stumps and deadfall that’s underneath this storm,” Gordon said. “That could be an instant season-ender!”

Gordon said it was always important to head into the backcountry prepared to rescue oneself, which means being equipped with a probe, shovel and transceiver.

He also urged people to be familiar with the latest forecast from the Utah Avalanche Center.

“That means we’ve got to be our own avalanche forecasters and that means that we’ve got to avoid the avalanches!” Gordon said.

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Human-triggered avalanche in Little Cottonwood prompts warning