The Utah Avalanche Center said the male snowboarder left Canyons Village in Park City through a backcountry gate at the top of the 9990 lift to access Dutch Drew. The 45-year-old was partway down the slope when he trigged the avalanche around 11 a.m. and was caught, carried, and killed in the steep, rocky Conehead area of Dutch Draw.
“There was one set of tracks in and no tracks out,” Lt. Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office told FOX13.
Wright said the estimated size of the avalanche was between 180-feet wide with about a 600-foot vertical drop that was a “pretty significant slide.” Officials believe the man was buried for between 25 to 45 minutes until two passersby found him.
“Two individuals came across the avalanche debris field and saw a snowboard sticking out of the snow,” Wright told FOX13. “These individuals dug him out and immediately started doing CPR.”
The man was taken off the mountain then died of his injuries.
The Utah Avalanche Center said the Conehead area of Dutch Draw along the Park City ridgeline is steep, rocky, avalanche-prone terrain and was the site of an avalanche fatality in February 2012. Officials also said that on the day of the deadly accident, that avalanche danger was rated as “considerable” after another side was reported two days earlier.
“A CONSIDERABLE DANGER exists on many mid and upper elevation slopes. The danger is most pronounced on steep northwest to easterly facing terrain at the mid and upper elevations,” according to the group. “In this terrain, human triggered slides may step down 3-4′ deep and hundreds of feet wide. This terrain is to be avoided.”
The UAC has warned that the risk of avalanches is high this season, especially on north-facing slopes, due to recent heavy snowfall on top of a weak base.
“Any avalanche you trigger that breaks to the ground is certainly going to be deep, it’s going to be scary,” Craig Gordon, an avalanche forecaster with the UAC, told FOX13 on Sunday. “And like we saw today, it, unfortunately, could have a terrible, terrible outcome at the end of the day.”
The Utah Avalanche Center says it, along with avalanche professionals from Park City and Canyons resorts, will investigate the scene Monday. The deadly avalanche on Sunday was Utahs’s fifth avalanche-related fatality of 2019 and the first of this winter season.