PARK CITY — Avalanche risk prevented search and rescue officials from reaching the body of a skier who was buried in a slide outside of Canyons Village at Park City until Sunday.
It required additional avalanche mitigation efforts for crews to safely reach the location where the body of 57-year-old Kurt Damschroder, of Park City, was found at around 11 a.m.
Damschroder, a long-time resident of Park City, designer and avid outdoorsman, and his friend were skiing through the backcountry area known as Square Top, along the Park City Ridgeline, on Saturday when Damschroder was fully buried by an avalanche that was triggered by the skiers at about 3:30 p.m.
The friend immediately called for help, was able to locate Damschroder with the use of an avalanche beacon and attempted life-saving efforts for more than an hour, according to Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez. He said Damschroder’s friend ultimately had to leave the area because of extreme avalanche danger.
Summit County Search and Rescue, Park City Fire Department and the Utah Department of Public Safety assisted in the recovery efforts, which spanned two days. The search was called off late Saturday because of ongoing risk.
“It is a dangerous avalanche zone,” said Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright. He said the teams planned to use a helicopter to hoist the skier out, but it got dark and they had to quit for the night. The search resumed Sunday at 7 a.m.
The incident did not come without a reminder from officials for people to use extreme caution when entering the backcountry. Avalanche conditions are reported by the Utah Avalanche Center, which cautions skiers to avoid areas where there is avalanche danger, and be prepared with the proper equipment.
The mountains of northern Utah exhibited high or considerable avalanche danger Sunday morning. The latest snowfall was reportedly heavy and resulted in at least 24 avalanches on Saturday from Provo to Salt Lake, as well as in the Uinta Mountains — one was 500 feet wide and another reportedly 20 inches deep.
Another skier was injured after triggering an avalanche that caught two skiers at Gobblers Knob in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Saturday. The skiers lost their skis in the slide and hobbled down the mountain themselves, according to Mark Staples with the Utah Avalanche Center.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office offered public condolences for Damschroder’s girlfriend and family.
At least 10 of the avalanches reported on Saturday were triggered by skiers, snowboarders or snowmobiles in the backcountry. The others were either naturally caused or triggered by unknown causes.
A skier was trapped and killed by an avalanche along the Park City Ridgeline on Jan. 8, the avalanche center reported.