LOCAL NEWS

Utah County woman helps to educate hikers about avalanche risk

Feb 18, 2024, 10:08 PM | Updated: Feb 19, 2024, 5:58 am

PLEASANT GROVE — With avalanches popping off at a prolific rate over the holiday weekend, a woman was helping raise awareness among hikers that the danger doesn’t just exist at higher elevations in the backcountry.

The Utah Avalanche Center on Sunday said close to 20 avalanches had been reported since Friday.

Tina Bean, who started the Facebook group ‘Hike the Wasatch’ and has watched it grow to over 33,000 members, regularly posts intel, information and training materials from the Utah Avalanche Center with an emphasis on hiking interests.

Tina Bean, who started the Facebook group ‘Hike the Wasatch’ and has watched it grow to over 33,000 members, regularly posts intel, information and training materials from the Utah Avalanche Center with an emphasis on hiking interests. (KSL TV)

“What I do is I take sections of that course and I post it every day online to educate them on one small facet of avalanche safety,” Bean said.

Bean said when it begins to warm up in the valleys, it can be deceiving for inexperienced hikers.

“You think, ‘Eh, it can’t be that bad up there,’” Bean said. “Yeah, there’s a lot more snow when you get 1,000 feet higher than the valley bench.”

Recent close calls in places like Lake Blanche and Provo’s Rock Canyon have made her particularly concerned.

Bean said she tries to familiarize hikers with potential red flags, such as cracking or collapsing along a trail.

She said she generally tries to avoid hiking during the winter during active weather and potentially a few days to a week after a storm.

It sometimes doesn’t take much, Bean said, to trigger an avalanche.

“You can trigger it from the bottom, you can trigger it from the top — just the vibration of your body traveling along that trail,” Bean said.

Bean said her goal is to spare others from the worst-case scenario.

“It’s horrific what happens in an avalanche,” Bean said. “When an avalanche engulfs you and buries you, it encases you like a tomb of cement. You cannot move. You can’t even move your limbs. Sometimes the snow gets in your mouth and in your nose. You only have about 10 to 15 minutes before you die.”

She urged all hikers to learn about avalanche risk and go through the Utah Avalanche Center training.

“I know I would hate to be in an avalanche and I certainly don’t want to see any other human being be buried in an avalanche,” Bean said. “Just be careful. Know before you go. Get the education and learn to read the forecast.”

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Utah County woman helps to educate hikers about avalanche risk