Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-01-29
Submitted By: Seth Shaw, UAFC
Place: East side of Mount Nebo
State: UT
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught buried and killed

On Jan. 29, Paul Jepson of Payson Utah and his friend were riding on the eastern aspect of a northern peak of Mt Nebo. Around 3:30 pm Paul descended onto a steep (40+ deg.) east facing slope at 10,000'. On his third attempt to climb back out he triggered a 1,200' wide HS. It was 1 to 4 feet deep (avg.=2') and up to 600' long and ran 800' vertical, snapping 6` spruce trees. The avalanche failed in old faceted snow (1' thick layer) formed during a long dry spell in December and the first half of January. The last significant snow was on Jan. 26 (about 6 to 8`) preceded by a major storm and avalanche cycle on Jan 19 - 21. The slope was not heavily wind loaded. Similar paths did not have obvious fracture lines, though many other slopes and road banks on the road in had partially filled in crown faces. His friend alerted the Sheriff by cell phone and proceeded to do a visual search (no beacons). The victim was found partially buried in a treed area about 45 minutes later and appeared to have died of trauma.