Warning issued after Utah avalanches

Sunday , February 26, 2012 - 7:16 AM

Contributed

SALT LAKE CITY-- A warning has been posted for many of Utah's mountains after avalanches killed a snowboarder and broke the leg of a snowmobiler.

The risk was "high" for potentially deadly avalanches in the backcountry stretching from Salt Lake City to Provo, including the Wasatch Range, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.

On Thursday, snowboarder Timothy Baker of Salt Lake City died after being buried by an avalanche he triggered just outside the Canyons Resort near Park City, authorities said.

On Friday, one snowmobiler suffered a broken leg and another escaped serious injury after they triggered an avalanche on Whiskey Hill near the Rich-Weber county line. Their names were not released.

Authorities and witnessessaidthe two snowmobilers were "very lucky" they didn't suffer more serious injuries. A third snowmobiler was able to outrun the slide.

Witnesses told the avalanche center that they couldn't believe the two snowmobilers tried to climb a steep slope on a day when the area's avalanche danger was rated high. They say the leading rider triggered the slide as he reached the top.

The avalanche occurred less than 24 hours after Baker died. He was buried in more than 3 feet of snow for about 40 minutes before rescuers found him.

Summit County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Bridge said the group Baker was with had no safety beacons and ignored warning signs stating they were leaving a groomed trail area.



Baker's father, Pat, said the two had recently talked about the extreme conditions.

"He shouldn't have been out there. That's why they have signs," he told the Tribune.

Witnesses told the avalanche center that two skiers with Baker made it safely to the bottom of a steep slope, and that they yelled at Baker to leave the slope before the avalanche occurred.

The death marked the fourth avalanche fatality in Utah since November and the third in the past month.

A storm brought more snow Saturday to northern Utah.

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