The avalanche danger in Utah became real Wednesday. A group of skiers in set off a slide in Dutch Draw, just outside The Canyons resort in Park City. The Summit County Sheriff said two people have died in that area in the past 7 years. Wednesday’s group barely escaped the falling snow. ABC 4 Anchor Kim Fischer talked with one of the skiers in an exclusive interview.
"I’ve never seen anything like that, it was a pretty mind blowing experience," August James said.
James and his group hiked out of bounds at The Canyons to find fresh powder, that's how they ended up at Dutch Draw, an avalanche zone.
"We got down to the bottom of Dutch Draw and were kind of celebrating and that's when I looked up and here comes a tsunami of snow about 200 yards wide," James said.
He said all he had time to do, was react.
"I looked up and said we got to get out of here it’s coming down quick and there was no turning back, we skied as hard as we could to get to safety," he said.
The group made it out safely, but barely. August and his group were powder skiing. The idea is to find untouched, deep snow. While most resorts offer powder skiing, some of the best powder is not found within the resort boundaries. So the hardcore skiers head to the back country. As we saw today, this intense skiing style can be very dangerous.
As the Utah Avalanche Report explains, snowfall settles in layers. If one layer is instable, everything on top of it tumbles down too. Wednesday's slide was 200 yards wide, and with an entire group of skiers under it, this story could have had a much more tragic ending.
"I’m thankful that I’m here to tell the story and I’m you know we need to be safe out here," James said.
So what can you do to stay safe? Check the avalanche danger before you ski. We have a link to the Utah Avalanche Center website here
If the conditions are not favorable, the solution is simple, stay inside resort boundaries where you know you will be safe.