[Originally written March 11, 2011; posted for the 1st time in light of a recent Utah avalanche tragedy]
The most recent snow has fallen like a ton of bricks. And I don’t mean that in a good way.
Two friends and I headed into the Wasatch a few days ago seeking powder turns. Pretty standard.
Here, though, is the professional account of the day’s demise:
We skinned into the range from Big Cottonwood Canyon’s “S-Curves.” 4 or 5 hours later, we finally found ourselves on top of the day’s goal, from where we planned to ride a really long and fun line. Those hours passed enjoyably, with great conversation from my riding partners, who have a combined 43 years of experience in the Wasatch backcountry.
Most days, it would not have taken us that long to reach the ridge. However, with such heavy snow and no previously-made up-track, it made for extremely arduous trail-breaking. We didn’t have a hard time staying in good spirits, though, and chose instead to make the most of the warm air in the untracked mountains.
You can read the UAC’s account of what happened. But, in short, I dropped the line after my snowboard friend had pulled into a safe zone. I stopped and called for him. He responded, emphatically telling me that he was just taken for an unsolicited ride through the trees. I knew what that meant: In an avalanche. I jiggidy-jogged through the trees to get to him, and when I popped out on the other side, where he was, an avalanche swept by, right in front of me. As it started to take my tails with it–which would have, inevitably, lead to me getting carried with it and
probably getting buried, I grabbed onto a tree branch and turned around to watch it fly past me. I looked back through the trees, to the side where I had skied, and it, too, was avalanching. Two avalanches had started in a matter of seconds, both big enough to bury a person, and both only 30 seconds after a different one had taken Trent through the trees.
My buddy ripped his pants, tweaked his knee, and was good to call it a day. We ate lunch at the bottom of the run, looked at our pristinely implemented skin track that was just BEGGING for another run or 2 (although it took us 5 hours to ascend, the marginal time for each additional run would have only been 1 hour-ish), and skied down our few-mile-long approach, happy to be alive and healthy, albeit a bit shook.
(as always, please click “vimeo” on the bottom right to watch in HD.)