Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: UAC
Place: Bountiful Peak, 4 miles east of Farmington, Utah
Summary: 1 Snowmobiler caught and buried, recovered alive with transciever
Accident Report Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Snowmobiler Buried But Recovered Alive
Bountiful Peak, 4 miles east of Farmington, Utah
A snowmobiler was taking photos of his friend high marking above him when his friend triggered a very large avalanche, which buried him.
Luckily they were wearing avalanche rescue beacons and other snowmobilers were able to locate the victim and dig him out. The avalanche was a hard slab avalanche so the debris was fairly blocky, which allowed the victim to dissipate his carbon dioxide and he was able to remain conscious through most of the rescue. He was unconscious when they finally recovered him. The other snowmobilers also called 911 on their cell phones and a medical helicopter responded to transport the victim to the hospital. He seems to be recovering fine, but may have some injuries.
It was a large hard-slab avalanche, which broke up to 8 feet deep and 200 feet wide. It reportedly occurred on a northeast-facing slope and descended around 800 vertical feet. The slab was composed of hard, dense new snow and wind-deposited snow and the weak layer was faceted snow and surface hoar that was deposited on the snow surface during November.
Northern Utah experienced a huge snow storm with very strong winds on December 8th and 9th with snow lingering into the morning of the 10th. This overloaded the buried weak layers and combined with a rapid temperature rise produced widespread avalanche activity in the proceeding days. An avalanche warning was in effect for the 8th and 9th but was allowed to expire at midnight before the accident. The danger rating was rated as HIGH on the day before the accident and was downgraded to CONSIDERABLE to HIGH on the day of the accident.