Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2010-01-27
Submitted By: UAC
Place: Meadows Chutes near Solitude Ski Area
State: UT
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 skier caught, buried, and killed


See this report with photos at:

Preliminary details of fatality in Meadow Chutes of Silver Fork from talking with the Solitude Ski Patrol

Meadow Chutes is a popular area for backcountry skiing, which are a series of east-facing, open slopes just west, and across Silver Fork drainage from Solitude Ski Area.

The party consisted of 3 skiers. The victim was 51 years old and a local backcountry skier. He descended from mid slope. The slope rolls over into a steeper section and it appeared that he triggered the slope from the breakover and the fracture propagated upslope nearly to where the other two skiers were standing. The skiers above felt a collapse and they saw the avalanche start down below them and they saw the dust cloud descend into the bottom of the canyon and up the other side of the drainage.

One skier quickly descended and began a beacon search while the other called 911 and began working her way down another path with more trees and gentler slope angle. The victim was buried around 4 feet deep. After about 5 minutes of digging, the ski patrol from the nearby Solitude Ski Area showed up. They witnessed the slide from the top of Powderhorn lift and one of the skiers in the party also called 911. After about 20 minutes of digging, and sawing aspen trees buried in the debris, they recovered the victim. He did not have pulse or respiration and he appeared to have suffered quite a bit of trauma, presumably from hitting the many aspen trees on the slope. Initial estimates of total burial time is around 40 minutes.

The avalanche broke at a mid-slope breakover and averaged 3 feet deep and 200 feet wide on a 35-39 degree, east-facing slope. It crossed over the creek at the bottom and ran partway up the opposite side of the canyon.

We will post more details after our investigation.