Avalanche deaths prompt reminder about the importance of rescue gear


    If you head into the backcountry, especially right now, when the snowpack is deep and the avalanche danger is high, you first need to make sure to avoid areas with steep slopes, said Gordon. (Photo: Cristina Flores / KUTV)

    According to the Utah Avalanche Center, four people have died in avalanches in the past four weeks in Utah.

    Four deaths is the average for an entire season.

    Craig Gordon, forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center, said the four victims had either partial or no avalanche gear.

    "Not only do you have to have gear, you have to know how to use it," he said.

    If you head into the backcountry, especially right now, when the snowpack is deep and the avalanche danger is high, you first need to make sure to avoid areas with steep slopes, said Gordon. (Photo: Cristina Flores / KUTV)

    If you head into the backcountry, especially right now, when the snowpack is deep and the avalanche danger is high, you first need to make sure to avoid areas with steep slopes, said Gordon.

    Then, if you do venture out, make sure you and your companions each have a full set of gear which consists of a beacon, probe and shovel.

    "If I'm missing any one of these components, I'm going to have an ineffective rescue," he said.

    If you head into the backcountry, especially right now, when the snowpack is deep and the avalanche danger is high, you first need to make sure to avoid areas with steep slopes, said Gordon. (Photo: Cristina Flores / KUTV)

    Max McNeal, ski patrol director at Brighton and member of the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue team, said someone who is fully buried in a slide can possibly stay alive for 15 minutes — if they haven't been killed by the trauma.

    That's why it's critical to do practice runs with the beacon before venturing into the mountains.

    "You have to know how to probe properly and there are strategies for digging people out," he said.

    After an avalanche, snow usually hardens quickly and feels like cement.

    If you are interested in beacon training, check here.

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