Two skiers triggered and were caught in an avalanche Friday morning on the closed slopes of Snowbasin Resort but survived without injury, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
At 9:45 a.m. in the No Name bowl of Snowbasin, the two skiers were skiing downhill following others’ tracks on the slope when the avalanche occurred, said Greg Gagne, a forecaster with the Forest Service’s Utah Avalanche Center in Salt Lake City.
“It was a big avalanche,” he said, about 18 inches deep and 100 feet wide and running through some trees.
With Utah’s ski resorts closed and so many people off work because of the coronavirus, many more skiers than usual are heading for the backcountry, Gagne said, and they are hiking the slopes to make their downhill runs.
And with the resorts closed, that means a resort’s slopes now can be as prone to avalanche as those in backcountry areas, Gagne said.
“When the resorts are open, they do avalanche mitigation and control work,” he said. “That’s what makes this unique. We’re telling people that while the resorts are closed, they’re no different than the backcountry.”
Snowbasin got 30 inches of snow this week, Gagne said.
In the Salt Lake region, there have been 11 human-triggered avalanches in the backcountry recently, he said.
The Ogden area’s avalanche danger was rated moderate Friday, according to Gagne.
Skiers can check for conditions at the Utah Avalanche Center website, utahavalanchecenter.org.