Titus Ridge Avalanche

An experienced backcountry skier found himself buried to the waist after remotely triggering an avalanche on Titus Ridge on Saturday, Dec. 26.

Unexpected Christmas-weekend snow is contributing to "considerable" avalanche risk in the backcountry around the Wood River and Sawtooth valleys, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center reported Sunday morning. 

Human-triggered avalanches are "likely" on steeper and wind-whipped slopes at middle and higher elevations in each of the Avalanche Center's four coverage areas, according to forecaster Chris Lundy. 

Skiers caused two slides around Galena Summit on Saturday, Lundy reported. In one, a skier triggered a slide while entering the east bowl of Avalanche Peak off of Galena Summit. (The skier apparently escaped off the slab, the Center said.) In the other, an "experienced backcountry skier" remotely triggered an avalanche while skiing an adjacent slope on Titus Ridge; he had reached the bottom of the slope by the time the slide reached him, burying him to his waist, according to the Avalanche Center.

No injuries were reported.

"Triggering an avalanche 16-24 inches thick is likely on wind-affected, upper elevation slopes," Lundy wrote. "Avalanches are also possible in more sheltered terrain. Slides may be triggered from gentle terrain below, above, and to the sides of steep slopes."

It's not all grim. The Boxing Day storm brought more much-needed snow than forecast into the region, Lundy said. The Western Smokys and Banner Summit topped the tally, with some 10-12 inches. The rest of the area received 6-8 inches, with 6 inches blanketing Baldy, according to the Center's snow total sheet.

Lundy expects "fair" weather for the next several days until a small system arrives on Wednesday.

"At this point, it doesn't seem like much to get worked up about," he said, "but things can and do change."

Email the writer: mdee@mtexpress.com

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