Utah Avalanche Center seeks donations; danger on La Sals remains moderate

The nonprofit Utah Avalanche Center seeks donations to help fund an avalanche awareness campaign after a deadly winter that claimed five Utah men, including Scott Pehrson Jr. of Monticello, 39, who died in late January following an avalanche in the La Sal Mountains.

Meanwhile, avalanche danger on the La Sal Mountains remains moderate for wet snow avalanches on sun-exposed slopes, according to a recent report from the center. Said Eric Trenbeath, “The danger will develop first on east-facing slopes followed by south, and then west. Low elevation, northerly aspects are also susceptible. Roller balls, pinwheels, and loose snow sluffs are signs of instability. Work with the sun, and get off of steep slopes as they become wet and sloppy. There also remains an isolated, or moderate danger for triggering a deep avalanche failing on a buried persistent weak layer. Though triggering this type of avalanche has grown increasingly unlikely, the consequences have not, and this type of avalanche is un-survivable. The problem is most acute on steep slopes facing NW-N-E right around tree line and above.”

In terms of donating to the center, the organization’s Executive Director Chad Brackelsberg in an email said winter 2018-2019 featured more than 200 human-triggered avalanches, with more than 40 people “taking rides” and about a third of them sustaining injuries.

“We need your help. In an effort to increase avalanche awareness and prevent future fatalities, we need to reach more people with our daily avalanche forecasts, expand the Know Before You Go program, and increase the number of on-snow avalanche courses,” said Brackelsberg. “As always, our goal is to keep everyone on top of the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’ rather than buried beneath it. Please help the UAC save lives by donating to the spring fundraising campaign. Help us attain our goal of raising $25,000 in 14 days.”

People may donate online, or via Venmo to @utahavalanchecenter. Or they can mail a check to Utah Avalanche Center, PO Box 521353, Salt Lake City, UT 84152-1353. Donate $100 or more and be entered to win a pair of skis, a rescue set, or a certificate for a jacket.

“Thank you for your support of the Utah Avalanche Center and helping us achieve our fundraising goal,” said Brackelsberg.