Two Backcountry Skiers Perish in Utah Avalanche Following Series of Spring Snowstorms, Sheriff Says

(SANDY, Utah) — Two backcountry skiers lost their lives and one was rescued after an avalanche Thursday in the mountains outside of Salt Lake City that occurred after several days of spring snowstorms, authorities said.

A rescue team responded just after 10 a.m. to an avalanche reported near Lone Peak in the Wasatch Range southeast of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said.

One of the skiers, who was able to dig himself out of the snow, had been rescued by midday and was taken to the hospital, Rivera said.

A rescue team in a helicopter flew over the area Thursday afternoon and confirmed the other two men were deceased, Rivera said. They are two men, ages 23 and 32. Their names have not been released.

Conditions were not safe enough to allow for a recovery on Thursday, and crews planned to go out Friday morning, weather permitting, Rivera said.

Rivera said she believed the man who was rescued was the one who called for help. Officers were speaking with him at the hospital to get more information about what happened, the sheriff said.

The skiers hiked into the area Thursday morning, she said.

Craig Gordon with the Utah Avalanche Center said about 2.5 feet (76 centimeters) of heavy, wet snow fell in the area in the past three days.

The skiers would have had to have been very experienced to even be in the “very serious terrain,” he said.

At least 15 people have been killed in avalanches in the U.S. so far this winter. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which keeps track of the figure nationally, tallied 13 deaths before authorities announced Thursday’s fatalities.