BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON -- A 51-year-old man from Cottonwood Heights was killed Wednesday afternoon in an avalanche near Solitude.
Police say Ricardo Presnell was with two other skiers when the avalanche occurred in the Silver Fork area of Big Cottonwood Canyon just before 2 p.m.
The trio of skiers were in an area called the Meadows. Two of the skiers were caught up in the slide, which was 800 feet long and 400 feet across.
One of the skiers sustained only minor injuries, but Presnell was completely buried by the snow.
The woman in the party called 911, and the other man turned on his beacon and started searching. He found his friend buried beneath about 4 feet of snow, lying face up. Police say he had visible trauma.
Ski patrol helped pull Presnell out of the snow, but he had no pulse and wasn't breathing. He was pronounced dead after crews spent roughly an hour trying to revive him.
"It is extremely high danger, and when that is the circumstance, regardless of your preparation and classes that you may have taken or equipment you may have with you, sometimes there's just nothing you can do when you're caught in an avalanche," says Unified police Lt. Don Hutson.
The conditions are so dangerous right now, the Utah Avalanche Center's Craig Gordon says the backcountry isn't stable.
"In the past week we've had a lot of close calls. There have been dozens of unintentionally-triggered avalanches, and now two fatalities," Gordon says. "So, people who even have a lot of backcountry experience -- years of experience in the mountains -- are getting tricked by these conditions."
Over the weekend, a 42-year-old skier was killed when he got caught in an avalanche in the backcountry near Snowbasin Resort, known as Hell's Canyon.
The avalanche center reported three large human-triggered avalanches Wednesday. With all the fresh snow, conditions are likely to remain very dangerous.