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Skier in Utah found dead after buried by avalanche

Posted at 1:11 PM, Feb 01, 2021

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — The body of a skier who was buried in an avalanche Saturday in the Park City backcountry has been recovered.

Kurt Damschroder, age 57 of Park City, was caught up in the slide that was triggered by him and a friend while skiing an area known as Square Top.

"My understanding, he was buried in four-to-five feet of snow, and so they were able to get him out about 11 o'clock [Sunday] morning," said Lt. Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff's office.

The aftermath of a fatal avalanche, as well as mitigation efforts in order to perform recovery mission, at Square Top in the Park City backcountry.

Summit County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team, as well as the Utah Department of Public Safety, had to call off recovery efforts Saturday evening, due to dangerous snow conditions.

"[Sunday] morning our search and rescue team with the assistance of the Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter, they reconvened at 7 a.m," Wright said.

In order to safely reach the scene for the recovery effort, crews had to perform avalanche mitigation which created additional slides.

The aftermath of a fatal avalanche, as well as mitigation efforts in order to perform recovery mission, at Square Top in the Park City backcountry.

"That included them taking some explosives in the DPS helicopter and dropping it in the area," Wright added. "They actually triggered quite a few slides."

The Square Top area is located just outside of Park City Mountain Canyons Village boundaries.

"Over the years this is an area known to be very deadly," Wright said. "If someone gets in the area and triggers an avalanche usually not a great outcome."

Damschroder, an outdoor enthusiast and experienced skier, had all of the proper backcountry gear.

"He had a beacon, he had a probe, he had a shovel, but as you know a lot of snow coming down, you're at the mercy of the weight of that snow and the fast movement," Wright added. "I understand it carried him quite a way down. Several hundred yards is what was described to me by our investigators."

Damschroder was skiing in the area with a friend, who was able to dig him out roughly 15 minutes after the slide was triggered.

"He did lifesaving efforts for more than an hour until finally, he had to get out of the area because of the safety... the risk," Wright said.

"Our hearts and prayers are with Kurt’s girlfriend and family," the Summit County Sheriff's Office wrote Sunday afternoon.

This is the second avalanche-caused death in Utah in the 2020-21 winter season.

Earlier this month, 31-year-old Kevin Jack Steuterman from Clinton was caught up and buried while snowboarding in the Dutch Draw area, also near Park City Mountain Canyons Village.

Wright encouraged people interested in backcountry skiing or snowboarding to check the Utah Avalanche Center's daily forecasts before heading out.

This story was first published by Diego Romo, Jonah Napoli, and Spencer Burt at KSTU in Salt Lake City, Utah.