Unstable snow blamed for Utah avalanches, threat level still high for N. Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Authorities in Utah are warning of avalanche dangers after a backcountry skier pulled from a snow slide in Sanpete County died at a hospital and a snowboarder was treated for an injured knee after another slide near Ogden.Garrett Smith, 26, died Sunday at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, a day after he and two others were rescued from a steep slope in the Manti La-Sal National Forest, KSL-TV reported. Smith and other friends were testing conditions at Horseshoe Mountain when they decided it was too dangerous and started to turn back. Just then, an avalanche hit. Smith and two other skiers were swept by the avalanche. Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center chief Bruce Temper told the Standard-Examiner of Ogden that recent storms have left a complex snowpack and dangerous conditions.”The winter’s not over yet,” Temper said. “We’ll continue to have some tricky avalanche conditions until the end of the month.”Smith’s family released a statement Sunday calling his death tragic, but saying that Smith was with six other experienced backcountry enthusiasts.”Garrett and his loved ones loved being in the backcountry,” the statement said. “They took every known precaution possible and did everything right, but all risks cannot be mitigated.”Bryce Barker, Smith’s father-in-law, said group members determined that conditions weren’t safe for skiing just before the avalanche before noon Saturday.One skier dug out another who was partially buried, and they dug out Smith, who was nearly completely buried. Smith was unconscious and his friends administered CPR until he began breathing again. One of the skiers was able to call for help, and several agencies, including the Sanpete Sheriff’s Office and Ephraim City emergency medical personnel, responded. Sanpete County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Peterson said the skiers’ position on Horseshoe Mountain – nearly 1,000 feet from the peak – made it difficult for rescue. Rescuers tried to get to the skiers by snowmobile, but the noise from the snowmobiles was causing more avalanches. Life Flight tried to reach the skiers, but snowy conditions made it too dangerous. Eventually, the skiers were pulled by rescuers to the top of the mountain by 21,000 feet of rope. From the time the call for help was received to the time rescuers were able to get the skiers off the mountain, about 12 hours had passed, Peterson said. Smith never regained consciousness. The other two skiers caught up in the avalanche were checked at a hospital and released. Weber County rescuers reached Michael Clary, 29, by helicopter Saturday after he hurt a knee in an avalanche on Malan’s Peak near Ogden, the Standard-Examiner reported.Clary was able to dig himself out and hike to a trail where he used a cellphone to summon help.The Utah Avalanche Center has issued a Special Avalanche Statement for what it calls “continued complex and tricky avalanche conditions for the northern and central Utah mountains.” For more details about the HIGH danger that exists in Northern Utah’s backcountry, visit

<a href=”http://utahavalanchecenter.org/advisory/logan”>utahavalanchecenter.org</a>


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