Skier Buried in Avalanche at Snowbird Resort Dies

SALT LAKE CITY — A skier buried several feet deep for nearly an hour in a rare avalanche inside the boundary of Snowbird resort died at a hospital from her injuries.

The woman, who was in her 20s, died just before 5 p.m. Sunday, University Hospital spokeswoman Chantelle Turner said.

Rescuers initially feared other skiers might have gotten caught up in the same slide, reported around 12:20 p.m.

But Sheriff Jim Winder said a thorough search of the debris field of hardened snow failed to turn up anybody else, and he was confident the woman was the only victim. The search was called off at nightfall after a search involving dogs, probes and avalanche beacons.

The woman had been buried under several feet of snow for nearly an hour, sheriff's deputy Levi Hughes told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Two doctors were on hand for the rescue, resort spokesman Dave Fields said.

Winder said the avalanche was an aberration inside a resort where ski patrollers routinely fire or drop explosives to loosen snow before slides can occur naturally.

The avalanche followed hours after Snowbird opened new terrain for the season off 11,068-foot Mount Baldy. In that area, skiers have to hike for about 20 minutes before descending. Fields said ski patrollers had dropped hand explosives earlier in the day as part of avalanche control work around Mount Baldy.

Snowbird, about 15 miles east of Salt Lake City, had received a foot of fresh snow from a weekend storm.

Details about the victim weren't immediately forthcoming. Turner said she didn't know the woman's name, age, hometown or cause of death and couldn't release the information if she knew it because of medical privacy laws.

The skier's companion reported the avalanche by cell phone and within seconds, the first ski patroller arrived, Winder said.

Another avalanche several miles away buried a backcountry skier on Sunday, Winder said.

A medical helicopter was on hand to pick up that skier, who was dug out by his friends alive, he said.

The backcountry group was skiing in the Wasatch Mountains near Desolation Lake.

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