Inbounds slide at Alta

Three partially buried, no injuries reported

The mountains will always be unpredictable. Photo: Sean Zimmerman-Wall

The mountains will always be unpredictable. Photo: Sean Zimmerman-Wall

Words: Erme Catino

On Monday, at 11:45 am, a skier triggered an avalanche in Spot Slot above the High Traverse at Alta Ski Area. What began as a typical powder day quickly morphed into a potentially terrible tragedy. Snow from the avalanche partially buried three skiers on the High Traverse. They were dug out and did not report any injuries, according to Alta Director of Marketing, Connie Marshall.

Skier McKenna Peterson pulled onto the High-T immediately after the avalanche. Trying to head out the traverse she noticed several people scattered around some debris, and then saw the crown above her. “I was shocked, you don’t have that on your mind at the resort… dealing with a slide or hangfire… I automatically turned my beacon to search and offered to help—patrol was on it.”

Five days of storm skiing had everyone at Alta buzzing, but the mood quickly changed when members of ski patrol flew uphill responding to the slide. The High T is a heavily trafficked area, and the outcome of the inbounds slide could have been catastrophic. Though there were no injuries, the slide shook the skiing community. Alta has one of the best snow safety programs in the world. The event was a not so subtle reminder of the unpredictability of the mountains.

Add a comment

  • bryan

    Bad karma for not allowing snowboarding…

    • some dood

      The high traverse would be almost completely unaccessible to snowboarders even if they were allowed on the lifts.

      • Bill Downey

        Not the time Bryan, glad to hear all involved are safe.

    • notinmycountry

      Some Dood Is absolutely correct. A snowboard would be useless on that traverse. Plus you guys just shave off all the good snow anyways :)

      • Real Rider

        Poor Americans never heard of a split board?

        • notinmycountry

          If you havent been there(?) you may not have any idea what we are talking about. I think a splitboard would be a waste of time. splitboards are designed for backcountry use, making the change from one to split to one would take too much time here. even with the slow chairs, I would still probably get 2 runs in to a splits one.

      • Jackson

        Ski nazi jackass

        • Jim Janssen

          Wow all the hate, ski, ride, monoboard it is all good. Just being out and happy. There are no shortage of places to ride. If you want to see why snowboarding at Alta sucks strap on a pair of skis, it isn’t that hard. If you like to ride under the lift it would be fine.

    • Ryland Washington

      The fact that someone has the audacity to make a comment like this sickens me. I’m glad riders like yourself, skier or boarder, don’t come to great resorts like Atla. Have some respect for the mountain and everything it can throw at you and don’t make a joke out a serious situation you would never want to be in yourself.

    • MJ

      Bwaahhh ;-)

  • Nick

    The snow from the most recent storm there had a very high water content. I’m sure that contributed to the slide.

  • Kyle Robert Nielsen

    Buddy of mine was caught in a IN-BOUNDS slide at Breckenridge yesterday, I have a bad feeling about the avalanche danger this year, everyone be careful and make sure your beacon is on and ready to go!

  • powderhound

    “Alta has one of the best snow safety programs in the world. The event was a not so subtle reminder of the unpredictability of the mountains.”

    Not anymore & absolutely predictable, it’s a resort. They got 23 inches in the 5 days leading up to the storm. Was any blastinging done. Patrol should know where the problem spots are and be able to predict slide and reduce risk. Someone or a team should get canned over this.

    • Delnorte

      There was extensive control work done that day with a shot placed in that exact spot. No amount of control work can make a mountain 100% safe which is why it’s always good to wear a beacon inbounds… I always do and so do most of my friends who ski Alta regularly. And FYI… Alta is a ski area, not a resort.

      • powderhound

        I agree with some of what you’re saying. Resort or ski area, if it has lifts and is maintained it is someone’s responsibility to make inbounds safe. Extensive work and one blast placed there kind of contradict each other. One may have been placed there, that wasn’t enough it would seem. I’ve spent many years in the mountains and have friends on patrols, if there’s ever concern they will close the area or continue to work the area until deemed safe. I think wearing a beacon is a great idea, I do too. I can’t find any info on the Breck slide in the news. Is there a link to that anywhere?

        • Tats

          powderhound – if this is your thought process on inbounds skiing and avalanche awareness, you may be missing some serious points. The resorts make no guarantees about avalanche control work, therefore it is ALWAYS the skier’s responsibility to make their own decisions and ride what she deems appropriate.

          Patrol teams across the world do their best to make the resort safe, but your understanding that they are 100% responsible is the problem here.

    • Ryan Murphy

      If you were actually up there that day you would know that there was a huge explosion around every five minutes. Hand charges and howitzers everywhere.

  • Ryan Murphy

    Utah is especially avi prone and this storm was really heavy. You expect the area to do their job but you ski like they haven’t. There are so many little chutes like Spot Slot (if that is what I think it is) above a lot of the traverses out here. Glad we have a nice reminder of all that without any serious injuries.

  • Cameron

    Kudos to ski patrol for being on the scene so quickly. When you are buried your only hope is the efforts of others to save you. It’s a very sobering experience to be out on the snow with a probe hoping you can find them in time. I think they made a lot of good karma this day.

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