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2 skiers killed after being caught in Utah avalanche, sheriff says: NPR

A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter transports rescuers from Hidden Valley Park in Sandy, Utah, on Thursday.

Rick Bowmer/AP


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Rick Bowmer/AP


A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter transports rescuers from Hidden Valley Park in Sandy, Utah, on Thursday.

Rick Bowmer/AP

SANDY, Utah — Two backcountry skiers were killed and one was rescued after they were swept away and buried in an avalanche Thursday in the mountains outside Salt Lake City that followed several days of spring snowstorms, officials said. authorities.

A rescue team was on the scene mid-morning after the avalanche was reported near Lone Peak in the Wasatch Range, southeast of Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake County sheriff’s office said. , Rosie Rivera. One of the skiers, who managed to get out of the snow, was rescued and taken to the hospital, Rivera said. She said she thought he was the one who called for help. Officers were speaking to him at the hospital to get more information about what happened, the sheriff said.

Rescuers aboard a helicopter flew over the area Thursday afternoon and confirmed the other two skiers had died, Rivera said. They are two men, aged 23 and 32. Their names have not been released, but their families have been notified, the sheriff said.

Conditions were not safe enough to allow a restart Thursday and crews planned to go out Friday morning, weather permitting, Rivera said.

The deaths bring the number of avalanche deaths this winter in the United States to at least 15, below the average of about 30 people killed by avalanches each year. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks the figure nationally, counted 13 deaths before officials announced Thursday’s deaths.

The site of the avalanche, Lone Peak, is one of the highest peaks in the Wasatch Range, overlooking Utah’s capital. Its steep and rugged terrain makes it a popular destination for advanced cross-country skiers, and experienced climbers can scale its granite walls in the warmer months.

The slide happened in the Big Willow Circus, said Craig Gordon of the Utah Avalanche Center.

“It’s very serious terrain. It’s steep. It’s facing north. The crew that was up there must have been experienced,” Gordon said.

Rivera said they were experienced skiers and prepared for skiing.

About 2.5 feet of heavy, wet snow fell in the area over the past three days during storms with very strong winds, he said.

“With spring, avalanche conditions can change in an instant,” Gordon said.