NewsIdaho Back Roads


Avalanche danger remains high through Saturday, Sun Valley Resort opens back up

Posted at 3:47 PM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 17:57:30-05

KETCHUM, Idaho — The Sawtooth Avalanche Center has extended their avalanche warning for the backcountry until 6:00 a.m. on Sunday in the Soldier and Wood River Valley, Galena Summit and the Eastern Mountains, and the Sawtooth and Western Smoky Zones.

The entire area has been blasted by snow. Sun Valley Resort is reporting more than six feet of snow in the last week.

On Friday afternoon Sun Valley closed the mountain at 2:00 p.m. They opened back up on Saturday and sold out their tickets.

Sun Valley does their own avalanche mitigation techniques, and when avalanche danger is high, the safest place besides the sofa are ski resorts, but people still need to take safety precautions with this much snow.

"You want to make sure you ski with a partner and stay within sight of that partner," said Bryan Dunn, a ski patroller with 20 years of experience. "We want to avoid any of those tree well incidents that have taken place across the northern Rockies."

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center reports a dozen natural avalanches throughout the region and three avalanches in the backcountry triggered by skiers.

"Two of those were in the burn area, which is terrain that goes down into Warm Springs out of bounds," said Chris Lundy of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center. "Those were two close calls there."

So far, there haven't been any reports of people getting caught in an avalanche, which is a tribute to Sun Valley Resort, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center and the decision-making of people recreating in the snow.

"The avalanche danger is not over, the avalanche warning that we have had issued the last few days we extended that through Sunday morning," said Lundy. "That will be a three-day avalanche warning, which is not very common around here."

Sun Valley Resort has prohibited uphill traffic, which means skiers and snowboarders are not allowed to hike up and ski back, which people sometimes do outside regular hours.

It would be too risky during the off hours without the ski patrol standing by.

The ski patrol also responded to an unresponsive skier on Friday, according to the Idaho Mountain Express 67-year-old Gregory Plowman from Hailey died after getting injured on the mountain, it remains unclear what kind of injuries led to Plowman's death.