Utah Avalanche Safety

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SANDY — Say goodbye to fall, and hello to winter as we’ve seen record-breaking low temperatures across the state of Utah. What does this mean for skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers? Fresh powder and…avalanches. 

Since outdoor sports enthusiasts will soon face the danger of avalanches, the Utah Avalanche Center put on its 12th annual snow and avalanche workshop this past weekend. They teamed up with several speakers to educate backcountry users on avalanche safety in case of an emergency.  

Avalanche survivor and Klim employee, Brandon Archibald, said, “I was an avalanche survivor. Luckily, I ended up on top of the snow and I was able to dig out my friend.” 

Archibald is one of the lucky ones. 

He expressed, “If I were able to go back, I would’ve educated myself.”

Since 1914, the Utah Avalanche Center has reported 121 avalanche-caused deaths here in Utah. This weekend, the organization focused on educating and better preparing people in case they find themselves in a rocky situation.  

Avalanche forecaster, Craig Gordon, explained, “So we use this as a platform for outreach and education, and then of course both professional as well as backcountry recreationalists can use our services to better navigate safely in the backcountry.”

Over the course of the two-day event, speakers covered everything from terrain to proper safety gear. 

“That’s one of the biggest things for the workshop. We want to get the word out there of what you need — the kind of gear that you need — but not only the kind of gear you need, you gotta know how to use it,” Archibald said. 

So, what’s the kind of gear you’ll need? Archibald said it’s crucial you have a beacon, shovel, probe, and an airbag. 

But coming equipped isn’t enough. Backcountry users have to know how to use their gear.

Archibald explained, “A lot of times, we think we’re prepared. Having that gear isn’t enough. You gotta know how to utilize that gear. It’s no different than owning a car and knowing how to drive a car. It’s the same thing — you have to know how to use the gear correctly for it to actually work.” 

The Utah Avalanche Center aims to reduce fatalities each year. If you missed this workshop, the organization does host safety classes throughout the year. 

“You don’t need to dress up in black tie to attend any of our avalanche classes,” Gordon joked.

For more information about classes, safety tips in general, or to even report an avalanche, head over to https://utahavalanchecenter.org/.

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