American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche, Utah, Catherine Pass

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986

AVALANCHE

Utah, Catherine Pass

On November 13, 1985, two men (29 and 24) died as a result of an avalanche near Lake Catherine, between Brighton and Alta ski resorts. About 1445, the avalanche broke loose as the two victims, who were cross-country skiing, were on a side hill. They were carried to the bottom of a gully by it. Both were wearing Pieps, as were the six other skiers in the area. Victims were located using Pieps. One skier went to Brighton Ski Patrol headquarters to get help. Alta Ski Patrol was helicoptered in, victims were rescued, but one died in the hospital of an abdominal aneurism and the other one day later of hypoxia. (Source: Lt. Mike Wilkinson, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office)

Analysis

The slide was about 25 meters wide and ran for about 70 meters down the mountain. There was no information about the size of the fracture line.

There had been a storm cycle on the Wasatch Front for 48 hours prior to the slide. There were one to two meters of new powder in the area. The slide took place on a north-east facing slope on the side of Catherine Pass above Lake Mary. (Source: Deputy Thad Moore, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office)

(Editor’s Note: While not a climbing accident, this report is included to remind back country skiers of mountain hazards.)

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