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Search Teams Discover Bodies Of Two Skiers Buried In Utah Avalanche


On Friday, search crews successfully located the bodies of two backcountry skiers who had been engulfed and buried by an avalanche just outside Salt Lake City the day before, according to officials.

The victims, identified as 23-year-old Andrew Cameron from Utah and 32-year-old Austin Mallet from Montana, lost their lives in the snowslide on Thursday morning within the vicinity of Lone Peak in the Wasatch Range southeast of the city. Authorities refrained from disclosing their hometowns.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera confirmed that search teams recovered the bodies of the two men on Friday morning. The bodies were airlifted off the mountain and transported to the medical examiner’s office, stated Sgt. Aymee Race from the Unified Police Salt Lake City.

Inclement weather conditions earlier in the week, characterized by heavy, wet snow and strong winds from Monday to Wednesday, had blanketed the area with up to 3 feet (1 meter) of snow.

The incident unfolded as the three men were ascending a ridge on a slope known as Big Willow Aprons, near the summit, when the avalanche was inadvertently triggered, as outlined in the preliminary report from the avalanche center.

The first climber was carried downhill on the right side of the ridge and partially buried but managed to extricate himself, summon help, and was rescued by midday Thursday. His identity has not been disclosed, Race mentioned.

Cameron and Mallet, however, were swept away on the left side of the ridge and subsequently buried, the center reported. Unfavorable weather conditions hampered recovery efforts on Thursday.

Family members of the deceased individuals were present at the search staging area near Sandy on both Thursday and Friday, Rivera mentioned.

Despite challenging conditions, search crews swiftly conducted excavation efforts and successfully retrieved the bodies, observed Bergstrom. However, escalating winds posed difficulties for helicopter operations during the conclusion of the rescue mission.

The trio of men, who were acquainted, had not intended to ski down the face where the avalanche occurred, although they had planned to ski in various other locations on Thursday, Gordon revealed.

The avalanche, which broke about 2 feet (61 centimeters) deep and 250 feet (76 meters) across, cascaded down approximately 500 feet (152 meters), according to the avalanche center.

Lone Peak, the site of the avalanche, is renowned for its towering presence in the Wasatch Range, attracting advanced backcountry skiers and experienced climbers to its rugged terrain year-round.

Rivera affirmed that the deceased individuals were seasoned skiers.

With these fatalities, the total number of avalanche-related deaths in the U.S. this winter stands at 15, as reported by the Utah Avalanche Information Center. On average, 30 individuals succumb to avalanches annually in the U.S.

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