BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (KSL.com) – A 55-year-old man was caught in an avalanche and buried while skiing on Saturday and was airlifted to a hospital.
The avalanche happened around 12:30 p.m. in the East Bowl area of Big Cottonwood Canyon near Silver Fork. It was about 100 feet wide and spanned about 400 vertical feet.
Det. unified police. Kevin Mallory said the man was skiing with a group of seven and one of his companions was able to call for help.
Wasatch Backcountry Rescue teams from Solitude, Brighton and Snowbird, along with search and rescue teams from Salt Lake County and Unified Police, assisted in the rescue efforts. Only the lone man was buried and had been under the snow for between 15 and 23 minutes, according to rescuers. The other skiers managed to free him and he was breathing but unconscious.
Officials said the man was airlifted over the mountain and taken to Intermountain Medical Center. The man regained consciousness and was in critical but stable condition, according to Mallory.
“We are encouraged by the outcome of this incident and glad it is not worse,” the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Department tweeted on Saturday. “Thank you to the many different organizations for pooling resources so quickly and working with us to make this rescue happen.”
With skiing, there is always a risk of being in an avalanche, especially when temperatures warm up and there is still fresh snow, Mallory said, adding a reminder to skiers to always be prepared with beacons and other safety equipment.
“Today was a great example of the incredible emergency response resources available to Salt Lake County,” tweeted the county’s search and rescue team, made up of more than 30 volunteer members who are from 24 hour guard.
The Canyon Road – State Road 190 – was temporarily closed in both directions for the rescue, and although there were some residual delays, the road was clear around 15h
The Utah Avalanche Center reported at least five more avalanches on Saturday, including two in Silver Fork that each grabbed a skier. The other skier was able to get out, the incident report says. There were also 11 avalanches Friday in northern Utah – almost all of them triggered by skiers or snowmobilers.
A snowmobiler in Upper Uintas was also caught in a slide on Saturday and was buried, but was able to get out, according to reports.