Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1998-11-07
Submitted By: Dan Judd, WWAN
Place: Mt. Baldy, Little Cottonwood Canyon
State: UT
Country: US
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 5 Snowboarders caught, 1 killed, 1 seriously injured

Snowboarder Loosens Avalanche, Dies in Snow Pile Near Alta


A snowboarder, who triggered the first avalanche of the season in Little Cottonwood Canyon, died Saturday afternoon when he was swept away by the thick, wet snow.

Police declined to release the name of the victim, pending notification of family members. The victim's female friend suffered leg and hip injuries and was transported to Alta View Hospital in Sandy. She was listed in stable condition late Saturday.

Three other friends were with the two victims, but police said they were unharmed in the avalanche estimated as 3-feet deep, 20-feet across and 500 feet in length.

The five people hiked to Mount Baldy between the Alta and Snowbird ski resorts Saturday morning. Just after noon, the five snowboarded down the mountain one at a time. After the first four were partially down the mountain, the male victim began his descent and triggered the avalanche.

The four survivors were covered up to their armpits in snow, but each was able to dig out. The surviving snowboarders could not find the victim's body, which was later discovered in a pile of snow by a member of the Alta Ski patrol and his dog.

However, Salt Lake County Sheriff's search and rescuers called off the recovery of the victim's body late Saturday because of further avalanche danger.

"We are trying to be careful, making sure that our rescue people are going to be all right," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Stephen Chard.

Sgt. Lane Larkin said authorities would intentionally set off avalanches today at 6 a.m. to bring down loose snow. After they determine it is safe, they will retrieve the body.

"We want to try to make the recovery before the next storm hits," Larkin said.

National Weather Service senior forecaster Peter Wilensky said the avalanche danger could be furthered in the next week as more snow is predicted to blanket the mountains.

"We are looking for quite a stormy pattern continuing between now

and Saturday", he said. "And I'm sure that will increase the avalanche hazard."

Wilensky said there is a winter storm warning continuing through tonight in the area mountains.