Skier survives deadly Utah avalanche by stopping near tree

AP News
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Posted: Jan 22, 2016 6:30 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An experienced skier caught in a Utah avalanche that killed another man survived by coming to rest against a tree, preventing him from being swept down the mountain under the rushing snow, authorities said Friday.

Tyson Bradley, 50, was partially buried but survived the slide east of Salt Lake City on Thursday by skiing up close to the tree, Mark Staples, director of the Utah Avalanche Center, told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1JqpTDb ).

Bradley, who is a longtime backcountry skiing guide and author of a book on the topic, used his rescue beacon to find where Douglas Green, 49, was buried farther down the mountain. He didn't have a pulse when rescue workers dug him out, and his death became the first tied to an avalanche this ski season in Utah.

Green, also an experienced skier who is from Salt Lake City, deployed his inflatable air bag but still was overtaken by an avalanche that Staples called "unsurvivable."

"This is a big avalanche ... and we see a lot of avalanches," Staples said.

He estimates that the slide in Big Cottonwood Canyon carried Green over 2,500 feet of terrain as fast as 70 mph into the gully below.

An avalanche warning that has been in effect will expire Friday, but slides could still be triggered, Staples said. He warned people to be careful.

"The snowpack doesn't know that you're an expert," Staples said. "It's an equal opportunity killer."