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Utah snowmobiler saved by friends in 'textbook rescue'

Published February 2, 2013 3:07 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An avalanche in northern Utah completely buried a snowmobiler on Friday, but his friends — members of Weber County Search and Rescue on backcountry patrol — saved him in mere minutes.

The group was moving through a ravine-like area south of Whiskey Hill in the Monte Cristo area in the afternoon, at an elevation of about 8,500 feet, when one of the snowmobilers triggered the slide low on the slope, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. The 300-foot-wide slab buried the 59-year-old man under four feet of snow.

But the man had an avalanche beacon, and the group was well-prepared for a rescue. They dug him out in five minutes, a "textbook rescue," according to the Avalanche Center.

"They had beacons, shovels, everyone was fully prepared," said Craig Gordon, who works with the Center. "In fact, this group has attended several of our hands-on avalanche awareness classes. Their training kicked in, and they knew exactly what to do."

No one else was caught in the slide.

After plenty of snow and warming weather, the center had pegged the area for a considerable risk for avalanches at all elevations in its daily advisory on Friday.

The Ogden-area mountains remain at a considerable risk above 8,500 feet but have been downgraded to a "moderate" risk everywhere below that.

There's a danger of wet loose slides as the day heats up on all steep sunny slopes and the low to mid-elevation shady ones, both of which the center advises people to avoid.