Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-01-05
Submitted By: Toby Weed, Park City Ski Patrol
Place: Tri-County Peak, Park City
State: UT
Country: USA
Summary: 2 skiers caught and buried, 3 skiers fired and cited

A party of three Park City lift operators illegaly left the Jupiter area and triggered a large Avalanche on the SE side of Tri-County Peak. The three alpine skiers were inexperianced in back country travel and did not have beacons or shovels.

In route to the inviting looking, peak 10-4-20, and shortly after crossing the area boundry, two members of the party triggered and were caught in a large Avalanche. The HS-AS-2 slide had a 300 ft. wide crown face that was 4 to 5 ft. deep.? The two young men who were traversing the slope together 50 ft. below the crown were swept down the 38 degree slope and over a 30 ft. road cut. The first skier cleared the popular and heavily traveled snowmobile route, (Gardsman Pass road) and after being under snow for most of his ride was deposited on the surface on the toe of the slide 800 ft. below the crown. The second skier was deposited, only partially covered with snow, on the Guard road along with 300 ft. of deposition as deep as 6 ft.

The third member of the party witnessed the slide from near the northern flank and went the the Jupiter Patrol station to report the incident. Within minutes of the slide, the hasty rescue party dispatched by the Park City Patrol reached the two skiers and started the evacuation of the first skier who had sustained minor injuries in his 800 ft. ride. A Dog team worked the deposition on the road and determined that no one had been trapped in the slide while snowmobiling or touring on the popular route.

The crown revealed a thin, faceted, weak layer between two crusts that had failed after being loaded by a heavy wind drifted layer and then triggered by the traversing skiers.

The three skiers were very lucky not to have been killed in this avalanche and not to have buried anyone on the road below them. They were fired by Park City and ticketed by the Summit County sheriff for the violation of a county ordinace prohibiting the crossing of a closed area boundry.