The slope where a Clinton snowboarder died in an avalanche Friday was the site of three previous fatalities since 2005, according to a Utah Avalanche Center report.
The 31-year-old man was killed Friday morning in the Dutch Draw area off of Silver Peak near the Park City Mountain Resort.
His identity was not released.
Findings of an investigation of the incident released Monday said avalanche fatalities had occurred at the Dutch Draw slope in December 2019, February 2012 and January 2005.
The relative frequency of fatalities there is a combination of a historically dangerous slope and its comparatively easy-to-access location from the top of a lift at the resort, said Nikki Champion, an Avalanche Center forecaster.
The top of the slope is a 15-minute hike from the top of the 9990 chairlift, Champion said.
Dutch Draw is known for weak snow layers and “it gets a lot of traffic,” Champion said.
Signs at the edge of the resort warn skiers they are entering the backcountry, she said.
Neither the snowboarder or the skier with him had any avalanche rescue gear, the report said.
The report said the snowboarder was midway down the slope when the skier started her descent.
“After making two turns, the avalanche broke at her feet, and the snowboarder ... was caught, carried, buried, and died from the avalanche,” the report said.
The skier was not caught in the avalanche.
Other avalanches along the Park City ridgeline in the last week had been triggered remotely from ridgetops, while others had been triggered by people low on slopes, according to the center.
“It cannot be determined how this avalanche was triggered,” the report said. “It is likely that this avalanche was triggered by at least one of the two people on the slope or possibly by both.”
The skier called 911 at 10:09 a.m., drawing mountain rescue teams and three helicopters to the area.
A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter lifted the skier off the slope, then crew dropped an explosive elsewhere on the slope to make it safe for rescuers.
The snowboarder was found with an avalanche rescue dog. The man was buried 2 feet deep and he was dug out at 2:30 p.m., the report said.
The danger in the area had been rated “considerable” by avalanche forecasters after two storms in the previous week.
Near the top of the Dutch Draw ridge, the slope is 30-32 degrees steep and would appear to be “relatively benign” to an advanced skier or snowboarder, the report said.
But the slope soon steepens to 38-40 degrees where Friday’s avalanche crown was located.
The avalanche was 9,800 feet above sea level, 150 feet wide, 600 feet long and 2 feet deep, the report said.
The snowboarder was carried about 200 vertical feet, it said.
What is the answer to preventing such avalanches, Champion was asked.
“It’s a hard one,” she said.
The gate leaving the ski resort could be closed, “but that’s not fair” to people who take adequate avalanche precautions, she said.
Even with heavy public outreach and education, she said, everyone must realize that beyond the resort gate, “it’s fully backcountry with a wild snowpack.”
The Avalanche Center also expressed its condolences to the family and friends of the snowboarder.
For avalanche forecasts and safety information, visit the Utah Avalanche Center homepage.
The center says 26 people have been killed in Utah avalanches since 2010.