Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2010-01-29
Submitted By: UAC
Place: Grandview Pk, Session Mtns east of Bountiful
State: UT
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and killed


View this report with photos on the UAC website:

A snowmobiler was caught and buried on Grandview Peak, which is in the Session Mountains, east of the city of Bountiful. It occurred on a slope called "Grand Slam" by the Wasatch Helicopter Guides, who sometimes ski in the area. He was hill climbing in the area on his snowmobile and on his first descent of a steep, north facing slope, he triggered a very large avalanche and was buried about 5 1/2 feet deep. Apparently, he tried to outrun the avalanche but was bucked off, presumably by hitting the stauchwall of the fractured slab.

Wasatch Powderbird Guides happened to be skiing in the area with clients and they noticed the snowmobilers climbing in the area. The next time they looked, they noticed fresh debris with one person on the debris waving his arms. The victim had a beacon and so did his partner, but the partner had not yet located the victim when WPG landed, whereupon the guide, Steve Hall, immediately picked up a beacon signal and found the victim within about a minute. Since the victim was buried about 5 1/2 feet deep, it took some time to dig him out but they still estimate the total burial time at 15-18 minutes. The victim was not breathing and did not respond to CPR. A medical helicopter was called and Air Med transported him to the hospital.

The snowmobile ended up on the surface. The victim was buried horizontally, face up with his head down slope. He was wearing a helmet and face mask.

The avalanche fracture occurred around 9,000' on a north-northwest facing slope of about 38-40 degrees in steepness. The slab fractured 3-4 feet deep, 250 feet wide, taking out the whole bowl and descended about 1000 vertical feet. From photos posted on the KSL News web site, it appeared that the avalanche fractured to the ground on faceted snow, similar to all the other avalanches this past week.

The avalanche danger rating from the Utah Avalanche Center was Considerable with pockets of High with strong warnings to avoid all slopes approaching 35 degrees and steeper. A Special Avalanche Advisory was also in effect issued through the National Weather Service.

*** MEDIA REPORT UPDATE 2/1/2010 ***

From Fox 13 News:

Snowmobiler Dies in Hospital Days after Buried in Avalanche

Jared Preusz and Maile Tua'one, Web Content Producers FOX 13 News

5:42 PM MST, January 31, 2010

BOUNTIFUL, Utah - The University of Utah Medical Center confirms snowmobiler, Stace Fleming died from his injuries Sunday morning. Fleming was buried in an avalanche Friday afternoon in the mountains east of Bountiful, near the Grandview Peak area. Davis County Sheriff's were called out to the area around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon. Helicopter skiing guides, the Wasatch Powderbirds, based out of the Canyons Ski Resort, responded, located and recovered the snowmobiler from the slide.

"They [Powderbirds] witnessed the avalanche and within a few minutes they were able help the snowmobiler out and Airmed took the patient," says Davis County Sheriff's Sgt. Jennifer Daley. Davis County Sheriff's office says that the victim may have been under the snow for 15 minutes.

"The avalanches that are being triggered are big and dangerous. And as we've seen this week, they are unsurvivable. So people can't let the lure of powder and sunshine override good decisions," Craig Gordon from the Avalanche Control Center said.

Fleming is the third man killied by an avalanche in Northern Utah since last Sunday.