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Skier gets caught in avalanche and buried in debris in Utah. Friends rush to save him

A skier was caught in an avalanche and was pushed into trees before getting buried in snow and debris, the Utah Avalanche Center said.

A skier was caught in an avalanche and was pushed into trees before getting buried in snow and debris, the Utah Avalanche Center said.

Screengrab from Utah Avalanche Center

The snow started to break to the right and left of a skier in Utah. An avalanche was coming behind him.

The skier, who was identified only as Jon by the Utah Avalanche Center, was skiing with two friends near Big Cottonwood Canyon about 25 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

An avalanche was triggered and started rushing toward the skier. Jon started to ski faster, thinking he could outrun the avalanche and stay ahead of it.

“I thought I could out ski the slide,” Jon told the Utah Avalanche Center in an accident report. “But as I reached the lower half of the slope, I got washed into some trees and knocked off my feet.”

The avalanche forced Jon through a small batch of trees and buried him in debris. The skier was fully submerged in the snow.

Two friends rushed to save him. They attached climbing skins to their skis and started looking for Jon, the Utah Avalanche Center said.

After 10 minutes, they reached Jon and helped him dig himself free. He had scratches and rescue officials didn’t need to help.

“Due to the depth of my feet and having one ski that was still attached, I couldn’t get myself out,” Jon told the Avalanche Center. “My ski partners arrived within minutes, and we were able to get me out, find all my gear, and live to ski another day.”

An avalanche can happen quickly and catch people by surprise. Avalanches can move at speeds between 60 mph and 80 mph, and typically happen on slopes of 30-45 degrees, according to officials.

They can be triggered by a change in the weather or by people recreating on a slope, officials said.

Skiers, snowmobilers and hikers can set off an avalanche when a layer of snow collapses and starts to slide down the slope. People trigger about 90% of avalanches, according to National Geographic.

In the U.S., avalanches are most common from December to April, but they can happen at any time if the conditions allow for it, National Geographic reported.

Three people have been killed by avalanches during the 2021-2022 avalanche season as of Dec. 20, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Maddie Capron is a McClatchy Real-Time News Reporter focused on the outdoors and wildlife in the western U.S. She graduated from Ohio University and previously worked at CNN, the Idaho Statesman and Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism.

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