Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) A helicopter lands at the Canyons Ski Resort after searching the area of the avalanche near the Canyons in Park City, Wednesday, December 19, 2012.
Skiers trigger avalanche near Park City, no injuries reported
Dangerous area » Slide site is where snowboarder perished in February.
First Published Dec 19 2012 12:44 pm • Last Updated Dec 19 2012 08:01 pm

Park City • A tangle of ski tracks led straight into an avalanche zone Wednesday afternoon, but after hours of searching authorities concluded that no one had been trapped on the mountain just outside the Canyons Ski Resort.

The slide occurred about 12:15 p.m., in the Dutch Draw area, which is adjacent to the Canyons Ski Resort and where two people have died in the past seven years. Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said the avalanche was about 200 feet wide and began with 100 inches of snow from the ridge line. He described the area as a popular "bowl-like" stretch of backcountry.

At a glance

More online

For more information on current avalanche conditions check utahavalanchecenter.org or call 888-999 4019.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But by 3 p.m., after searching by air, with ground crews and avalanche dogs, investigators said they were confident there were no victims in the slide.

"At this time SAR [search and rescue] and all other resources are preparing to clear the area," Edmunds tweeted.

The decision put to rest concerns that a skier may have been trapped, which arose from a discrepancy in the number of tracks leading into and out of the slide zone. Edmunds later noted that discrepancies in avalanche areas are not uncommon.

Authorities believe the avalanche was human-triggered, with a group of nine skiers most likely responsible, according to Edmunds. The group of 20-something men and women were questioned Wednesday afternoon.

The area is out-of-bounds for ski resort users, which Edmunds said means skiers use it "at their own peril." Though authorities can cite users of out-of-bounds areas, they released the nine skiers — who immediately returned to the slopes — without penalty, as per standard procedure. Edmunds added that the area has been marked with warning signs prominently featuring skull-and-crossbones imagery.

"I don’t know how more explicit you could be," Edmunds noted.

Forest Service avalanche forecaster Craig Gordon, who works with the Utah Avalanche Center, said the skiers were lucky to escape unscathed. According to Gordon, avalanche danger is high in Utah’s mountains because a recent storm left a cohesive layer of heavy snow on top of weaker "sugary" snow.

"For the next couple of days, tricky backcountry avalanche conditions will exist," Gordon said.

story continues below
story continues below

Wednesday’s avalanche site is adjacent to the ski resort’s Ninety-Nine 90 Express lift, but outside the ski area and on U.S. Forest Service property.

It is the same area where Timothy Robert Baker, a 24-year-old Salt Lake City man, died while snowboarding last February. Idaho snowboarder Shane Maixner died in January 2005 in the same area after crossing through a resort gate, dropping into Dutch Draw and being buried.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.