KSL Outdoors: Utah Avalanche Center

Thanks for tuning into KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle. Tonight we have a really fun adventure for you, but we are also going to teach you a few things we hope. Did you know that every year four people die in avalanches in Utah. So, in order to get informed, to be safe, we are headed out with the Utah Avalanche Center to learn how to avoid avalanches.

In the past ten years, forty people have died in Utah avalanches. Half of those that died were riding a snowmobile.

(Craig Gordon, Utah Avalanche Center Forecaster) I’m Craig Gordon, I’m one of the forecasters with the Utah Avalanche Center.

(Craig Gordon) so the course is divided into a couple of different segments. First we start with an evening presentation. This year we had it at Tri-City Performance.

(Craig in class) Avalanche debris it sets up like concrete in just a second or two.

(Craig Gordon) That three hour class we cover the basics. So that includes, weather, snow pack, terrain and of course the human factor. How we integrate into the back country.

(Craig Gordon) Our thursday night class is followed by a Saturday, all day on the snow here on at Thousand Peaks. We start off by giving all of our participants the keys to the kingdom. What that means is they learn how to use and utilize their avalanche rescue gear. Yeah beacons, shovels and probes.

(Instructor) Is there anybody that is first time, never used a beacon before?

About two dozen people have signed up for this avalanche class. Most have seen avalanches, set them off, or like in Mark’s case, lost friends to avalanches.

(Mark Hadley, Mountain Green Snowmobile rider) The last 7 years I’ve lost a least three friends or acquaintances and a friend and I just felt like I’ve always needed to know. I’ve always just chanced every time I’ve went out snowmobiling.

(Mark Hadley, Mountain Green Snowmobile rider) i just felt like I’m tired of loosing my friends and hopefully i can be an instrument to tell them. You know, don’t go up on the hill.

This all day avalanche awareness and snowmobile skills class is being held on the forty three thousand acre Thousand Peaks Ranch. Private property on the West slope of the high Unitas.

(Craig) It shows the great partnership we have in the community. In particular with the Park City Powdercats, who’ve opened up their ski terrain in the spirit of avalanche education and outreach.

(James Boyer, Park City Powdercats) this is an awesome place to spend the winter and to be able to bring our guests out and enjoy some of the most amazing back country skiing that Utah has to offer.

This ranch is a playground for snow enthusiasts, it also is a perfect example of potential avalanche terrain you can find anywhere in the back country.

(Craig) Right now, half of the class is riding with some of the best pro riding athletes in the country.

(Craig) so they get to hone their riding skills while the other half of the class is looking at the layering in the snow pack.

(James Boyer) we start off doing some taps from the wrist, then move to taps from the elbow and then all the way to the shoulder. That should give us an idea of where the weak layer is and some kind of the idea of the strength of that.

This class shows how to dig a snow pit and conduct a snow stability test.

Participants are then shown how to identify a weak layer of snow and how to test the snow before they ride on a potential avalanche slope.

(Brett Kobernik, Utah Avalache Center) If you get off your machine and your feet go through to the ground. That should be a clue. Those are big clues as far as faceted snow, deep in the snow pack.

(Craig) You can be out on the snow everyday. It’s finding a happy medium, that you can go out and you know the days that it’s green light conditions and you can get after it and also we give riders the skills that they know when the time to tone it down.

you know what I really like about this course is not only is there classroom instruction, but there is also this hands on instruction. Whether you are digging a pit. Learning what terrain to go on, when to go on it, or if you should ever go on it. To testing out your skills on the snowmobile, learning something from the pros.

(Adam) hey coming up on KSL Outdoors a really sad story from last years snowmobiling season where a family lost their brother, a father and a son.

(Darin Noorda) Not a day goes by that you don’t think of him. You don’t ponder him, you don’t think of his wife and three kids. But, you do hold on to the fact that my brother died doing what he loved. It’s just a travesty that he had to die.

That story just ahead, but first tonights Burt Brothers quiz question.

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