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Skier survives avalanche

Published December 13, 2009 4:06 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An avalanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon buried a skier Saturday, though he escaped without injury, according to a report by the Utah Avalanche Center.

It happened as a group of four skiers were breaking a trail up Cardiac Ridge, located near the top of the canyon, said Utah Avalanche Center director Bruce Tremper. They had felt several collapses, but didn't think there was enough snow to create an avalanche. As they neared the top of the ridge, the skiers heard a "whumph" and felt a collapse as a slab of soft snow broke out about 100 feet above them, Tremper said. Three skiers were out of its path, but one was caught and the snow carried him more than 250 feet. It buried him completely under about 2 1/2 feet of snow.

His companions saw the tip of a ski pole sticking out of the snow, pulled on it and found it was still attached to his wrist. They dug him out in about a minute. His face was beginning to turn blue when they uncovered him, but he took a deep breath and cleared his lungs. He recovered without injury. Experts said the soft slab was likely created by wind-blown snow.