A skier triggered a large, 1,000 foot long slide on Sunday inside the boundary of a closed Alta Ski Area reports Fox 13 Salt Lake City. Nobody was caught, injured, or killed.The incident shows how although it may be late in the season, avalanches are always a factor as long as there is snow on the ground.
The Utah Avalanche Center stopped issuing its daily advisories earlier this month but the website still warns its readers, “Spring storms and warm temperatures may make avalanche danger rise.” Their guide to springtime avalanche danger is actually posted as their current advisory and you can find it here.
What’s really remarkable is that the UAC has accomplished its lofty goal of zero backcountry, avalanche-related fatalities for the second year in a row. While that could change, we hope spring skiers/riders will heed the information below and stay out of harm’s way.
The Bottom Line For Wet Avalanches:
Get out early and get home early. Get off of–and out from underneath–any slope approaching 35 degrees or steeper when the snow becomes wet enough to not support your weight. Warning signs may include:
- Roller balls (pinwheels) in new snow that is getting wet for the first time
- Natural or human triggered wet sluffs
- Small sluffs fanning out into larger slides, or running long distances
- Punchy or collapsing crusts
- Cornices breaking off
- Several days of strong melting combined with no refreeze at night.
Any of these signs mean it’s time to head home, or at least change to an aspect with cooler snow. Remember, even “smaller” slides can be dangerous in high-consequence terrain, such as above a terrain trap, trees, rocks, cliffs or a long, large avalanche path. Plan your trip to have a safe exit back to the car. (You can always click on the “I” button next to the avalanche problem icon for more information.)
Find up-to-date avalanche info and data here: Utah Avalanche Center