The Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) had the misfortune of reporting the avalanche death of a 45 year old male snowboarder.
A 45-year-old male snowboarder, Matt Tauszik, was killed in an avalanche in Dutch Draw off of Silver Peak on a slope called Conehead. He was alone and did not carry any avalanche rescue gear. Because he was alone, we do not know all the events leading up to the avalanche. What we do know is that he was riding in the Canyons Village area of Park City Mountain Resort with his wife and son prior to the avalanche. He left them and rode the 9990 chairlift. At the top of the chairlift, he most likely accessed the Dutch Draw area via the backcountry exit gate. From this gate, there is a short descent along the ridgeline to the south followed by a hike up the same ridgeline to the top of Silver Peak.
Based on his tracks in the snow, Matt began his descent near the top of Silver Peak. Other people previously descended open terrain just to the north without incident. He rode the initial 100 vertical feet off the peak on an open slope before descending into a stand of trees for another 150 vertical feet. Near the bottom of the trees, he made a right-hand turn and jumped off a small rock. Upon landing or just after landing, he triggered the avalanche.
Members of the public spotted the avalanche and converged on the debris where they spotted part of his snowboard sticking out of the snow. He was buried a maximum of three feet deep. The Park City Ski Patrol spotted the avalanche at about the same time and began preparations with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office to respond. When they arrived, the public had dug Matt out of the snow and begun CPR. Ski patrollers continued CPR and transported him by toboggan to an ambulance parked near the bottom of the 9990 chairlift. He was transported to the Park City Hospital.
Based on interviews with the public, radio traffic, and calls to 911 and ski patrol dispatch; the best estimate is that he was buried for about 35 minutes. Responders reported obvious trauma. They also noted significant damage to his snowboard.
The Park City Ski Patrol searched the debris for signs of any additional burials. They did a quick search with avalanche transceivers and did not detect any signals. They also interviewed members of the public and counted ski tracks on the slope to determine that no one else was caught. There was only one set of tracks entering the avalanche.
Most avalanche fatalities happen to people unaware of the avalanche risk they face. Follow the current UAC avalanche danger rating here.
The UAC serves as the central resource in Utah for avalanche information, serving all forms of winter backcountry users and working closely with local and national media. The FUAC maintains the most comprehensive avalanche website in the U.S., with daily advisories, video tutorials, field observations, a glossary, media resources, a database of snow profiles, photos, videos, calendar of events, list of all avalanche courses taught in Utah, links to national resources, and more.
Photo and information from the UAC.