Feb. 24, 1997, Snowbasin Utah - No Name Peak
Another Blue Bird northern Utah day. Chris, Jared, Brian, Matt and Mark decide to adventure out of bounds to surf the freshly wind loaded No Name Peak. About a 45 minute hike off of Snowbasins Porkipine run, No Name was daring the group to come have a run. After the 45 minute hike the five were about to have an experience that they, especially one of them, will never forget.
The day before, the Northern Wasatch mountain range experienced wind gust that were clocked at 90 miles an hour. The wind was loading the east facing bowls with several feet of soft, light Utah powder. The normally safe off piste runs were turned into death traps for the careless veterans of Snowbasin.
Even having years of riding under their belts, none of the five have had any sort of avalanche awareness course or any type of backcountry safety devices. The adrenaline surging through the veins of our three heroes, forced all caution aside. Mark and Matt took the lead to the first steep chute. The two cut across the top looking down when they heard the crack, felt the shift under their feet, and Jareds voice scream "AVALANCHE".
Mark pointed his board straight to the side of the chute into the trees, wrapping his arms around the first one he came to. White knuckling it while the snow fractured all around his feet. Matt didn't have much choice. He heard the crack and felt the shift under his feet. Trying to out run the slide, Matt pointed his board and let go. The wave of snow immediately caught up with Matt, sliding underneath him and picking him up, Matt was caught right in no mans land. All Matt could see was white.
The Avalanche carried Matt over several cliff bands up to fifty feet high, at which point he thought he was going to die. The snow slid for 1800 vertical feet before coming to a halt. Matt had ridden almost all of the slide on top of the snow ending up only buried up to his knees. Chris and Brian were the first to arrive. Matt, who was buried up to his knees, had already dug himself out. Mark and Jared were on top of the mountain, looking for Matt. They finally got Matts board out of the snow, it might as well been in three pieces. He either hit a rock or the shifting snow had snapped the tip and the the tail of his snowboard.
Since then, Matt has purchased a transceiver and is working on the other equipment as fast as he can. He has also signed up for an Avalanche safety course. He is encouraging his friends to do the same. I think that they will.
Mick at Winterstick com
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