“All of these significant avalanches should serve as a warning sign that we just have a kind of textbook setup for another avalanche accident.” -Avalanche Forecaster, Nikki Champion

A backcountry skier in Little Cottonwood Canyon was airlifted to a local hospital after triggering an avalanche Sunday afternoon. KSL reports the skier triggered avalanche occurred in the Lisa Falls area of Little Cottonwood Canyon. A group of skiers not associated with the victim witnessed the slide and tried to help. Skier admitted in a post incident report that they made “several poor decisions almost killed me today.”

There was a ton of avalanche activity over the weekend with 30+ sightings reported to forecasters in the Salt Lake City area alone. Nikki Champion, who works as an avalanche forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center, said over the last 10 days the Upper Cottonwoods have accumulated 4 to 6 feet of snow.

“We have this persistent weak layer to this weak layer faceted ground, the ground from early season snow. If you add a lot of weight or change or load, it tends to stress it out and overload it. It’s not like you’re going to trigger (an avalanche) on every single slope across the board. But if you do trigger one, it’s going to be a really deep, a really deadly and a really consequential avalanche.”

Champion advises avalanche terrain should be avoided but skiers going towards the backcountry can ride on low-angled slopes:

“We really want people to return home. So with the clear skies, just continue to make conservative decisions. Just give it a little bit more time. We’re trending in the right direction.”

For more avalanche forecasting info from the Utah Avalanche Center GO HERE: