Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2002-02-23
Submitted By: Drew Hardesty; UAC
Place: Uinta Mountains, Currant Creek drainage, east of Heber
State: UT
Country: USA
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and injured

OFFICIAL REPORT FROM USFS

Utah Avalanche Forecast Center

On Saturday, February 23rd, a 31 year old Sandy, Utah man on a

snowmachine triggered the slide that buried him. The victim and his

party were riding in the upper Currant Creek drainage, east of Heber and

accessed via Daniel's Summit, a very popular area for snowmachiners.

According to the Wasatch County Search and Rescue, his four companions

watched the victim highmarking an open bowl as it broke above him,

carrying him and his sled down the slope, burying them both. Of the five

in the party, only two were wearing beacons (the victim not one of

them), with three shovels in the group. Apparently, the members in the

party were able to hear the still running snowmachine beneath the

debris, where they started digging. They found the unconscious victim

near the sled. He was reportedly buried 20 minutes, five feet below the

surface. A few days later, he was still in critical condition,

unconscious.

Avalanche/Terrain data: The avalanche was a SS-AM-2-AO, failing on well

developed (2-3mm)faceted snow. SAR report: Elevation-9725' Aspect-East

Depth 1.5-2' Width 50' Vertical Run 150' Debris up to 9'. The slope was

an open bowl below tree line, and not particulary exposed. Slope angle

unknown.

Snowpack/Weather data: The Western Uintas have been notoriously shallow

and weak with light accumulation and cold temperatures, effectively

resulting in a mostly unsupportable snowpack at most elevations. Almost

a foot of new snow had accumulated five to six days before the accident.

I observed an small slab avalanche remotely triggered by a snowmachine

and a Class 2.5 (CA) natural on Currant Creek Peak that had occurred

during or just after the previous week's storm.

-end report-

Hardesty