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One person injured in Little Cottonwood Canyon avalanche

Dec 13, 2022, 6:10 PM | Updated: 11:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A skier is recovering from several significant injuries Tuesday night after an avalanche caught him in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Estimates of the avalanche had it as big as 100 feet wide. A forecaster told KSL TV that he believed it was closer to 60 feet and two to four feet deep.

He said the skier who was caught was lucky to make it out alive.

The avalanche was triggered by two skiers in an area near Tanners Campground.

“They were caught. They weren’t buried. They were injured and they had to be hauled out of there,” said Mark Staples with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.

Staples said one skier suffered significant injuries to a leg, as well as his ribs, shoulder and face.

“Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, Alta and Snowbird ski patrols saved his life,” he said.

Somehow, Staples said, rescues got the man to safety in three hours.

“Which is really fast because they had to do it on foot, in snow probably this deep, dragging him through the snow to cross Little Cottonwood Creek,” Staples said.

“I know for a fact they were wading in the water, going back and forth, passing him across, and then they had to drag him uphill to get him out of there,” he added.

To forecasters, this avalanche was concerning.

“It happened down at a lower elevation in a forested area with trees,” Staples said.

With more avalanches possible at lower levels in the days to come, the fear is someone who is less experienced could be caught by surprise.

“We are worried. We’re trying to get the message out, you know, if you’re going snowshoeing, walking your dog — anyplace in the mountains where you have steep slopes — you could have an avalanche.”

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One person injured in Little Cottonwood Canyon avalanche