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2 skiers dead in Utah avalanche; 1 digs himself out: Police

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(SALT LAKE CITY) — Two skiers were killed and a third was hospitalized following an avalanche on Utah’s Lone Peak Thursday, according to the Unified Police Department of Salt Lake City.


The skiers were believed to have been buried by an avalanche in the backcountry, according to police.

The deceased victims were described as two men, ages 32 and 23 years old, Sgt. Aymee Race told reporters. Their bodies were recovered Friday morning, according to police.

The skiers were ascending a slope called the Big Willow Aprons and had switched from skiing to boot packing and were near the top when the avalanche occurred, according to police.

“The person in the lead was caught and carried downhill on the looker’s right side of a ridge or fin of rock. That person was partially buried and was able to self-extricate. The other two were caught and carried downhill on the looker’s left side of the ridge feature. Those two were fully buried and unfortunately did not survive,” according to a report from the Utah Avalanche Center.

The hospitalized skier was being treated for minor injuries after he was able to extract himself from the snow and attempted to rescue his two friends before calling for help, according to Race.

Search and rescue professionals have not been able to get to the accident site because avalanche conditions are too dangerous, authorities said.

Recovery efforts were paused Thursday afternoon due to snow falling on the mountain again, police said. The recovery operation has been suspended until Friday, the Utah Avalanche Center told ABC News.

Large, dangerous avalanches are rare this late in the ski season because daytime warmth typically stabilizes the snowpack, the Utah Avalanche Center’s Craig Gordon told reporters.

A recent storm of about 30 inches changed weather conditions very quickly, raising the danger dramatically, Gordon said. He added that this area on the north side of Lone Peak is steep and technical, complicating rescue efforts.

As is often the case for nearby ski resorts with big resources, Alta Ski Area told ABC News earlier in the day it had dispatched a ski patroller and avalanche rescue dog to assist with the search and rescue effort.

There have been 15 avalanche fatalities in the U.S. in the 2023-2024 season — including the two from Thursday’s accident — according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
 

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