Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2001-03-10
Submitted By: Ethan Greene, USFS Utah Avalanche Center
Place: Upper Chalk Creek, near Oakley
State: UT
Country: USA
Fatalities: 2
Summary: 3 snowmobilers caught, 2 completely buried, and killed

I checked the site of the Uinta accident on Monday. The slide was at

about 10,000 feet on a northwest facing slope. The main part of the

slide was an hour-glass shaped path about 150 feet wide at the top with

a 50-75 foot choke before opening back up to about 150 feet wide in the

deposition area, which was up to 12 feet deep. But... in addition the

fracture jumped out of the main slope and took out the next two gullies

but not running onto the main deposition area. Thus, the total width was

about 500 feet. It ran only 400 feet vertical. Although a couple of

areas in the starting zone were about 40 degrees steep, most of the bed

surface was under 35 degrees. Alpha angle: 27 degrees. Fracture depth: 2

to 5 feet. Most of the bed surface was down to ground level but in

places the sliding surface was the faceted layer fromed during the

December - January clear spell. A pit on the flank at about the level

where the slide was triggered showed a two foot hard slab over very weak

facets and depth hoar.

Both victims were buried about 3 feet deep near the toe of the debris

with either a hand or a foot sticking out. They were about 75 feet

laterally away from their sleds. The initial search was focused near the

sleds and without beacons it must have taken some time to locate the

visible clues.

Tom Kimbrough

~~~~~~~MEDIA REPORT~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Huge Avalanche Kills Two

Sunday, March

11, 2001




OAKLEY -- A day of leisure turned lethal for two

snowmobilers Saturday when an avalanche erupted on

a mountain near Oakley in Summit County.

The massive snowslide -- estimated at at least 900

feet long, 180 feet wide and 12 feet deep -- buried the

two men at around 1 p.m. while the father of one victim

helplessly looked on in horror, according to Lt. Joe

Offret of the Summit County Sheriff's Office.

The victims, identified as 29-year-old Jason Wade of

Layton and 29-year-old Steven Barlow of Salt Lake

City, marked Utah's third and fourth avalanche deaths of

the year. Wade and Barlow, along with a friend and the

father of one of them, had been joyriding in a popular

snowmobile haven of Upper Chalk Creek that is

commonly referred to as "the chutes."

Suddenly, thousands of pounds of snow came

rumbling down the estimated 9,000-foot-high mountain

like a gigantic wave. One man, 25-year-old Jason

Peacock, tried to outmaneuver the slide on his

snowmobile, Offret said.

Peacock's flight attempt was unsuccessful, Offret

said, but may have saved his life; Peacock was only

partially submerged under the snow's weight and he

escaped without injury.

Peacock rushed to the aid of his trapped friends,

locating and somehow digging them out, Offret said. He

administered CPR to his dying friends but was unable

to revive them. One of the dead men's father, whose

name was not revealed Saturday, was barely spared

from the avalanche because he was farther down the

mountain than the others, Offret said.

"Apparently the slide stopped just a few feet from

him," Offret said.

Conditions at the mountain were ripe for disaster

because of heavy snowfall in the area over the 12 hours

preceding Saturday's slide. It is well known that March

is the peak season for avalanches. In addition, the U.S.

Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center advisory had

rated Saturday's avalanche danger as "considerable" for

steep slopes at or below 7,500 feet.

Yet Summit County rescue officials were struck by

one fact of the mountain's shape: Its terrain was not

particularly steep, as they had expected. They do not

believe the snowmobiling quartet had any electronic

beacons or shovels with them, a recommended

precaution for people in backcountry snow areas.

What rescue officials had not determined Saturday

was whether the avalanche was human-caused or

natural. Nor had they discovered the precise cause of

death for Wade and Barlow, who were pronounced

dead at the scene. Their bodies are expected to be sent

to the state medical examiner's office for autopsy. A

common cause of death for avalanche victims is


"It sets up like a concrete wall," Offret said, "and

[the snow] can actually squeeze the air out of you."

Summit County investigators, who closed part of the

mountain Saturday, intend to revisit the avalanche site

Sunday to continue their probe.

But Offret said police cannot close access to public

land, where the slide occurred.

The mountain, Offret said, will "probably be open."