Skier dies in avalanche; fourth in Utah since Saturday |

Skier dies in avalanche; fourth in Utah since Saturday

SALT LAKE CITY ” The body of a 37-year-old Norwegian man who disappeared while skiing the backcountry in the Wasatch Mountains was discovered Thursday, the fourth avalanche death in Utah in less than a week.

Searchers located the body of Vegard Lund of Tromso, Norway, after explosives were dropped from a helicopter to clear snow and create a safe route.

“He’s a confirmed fatality,” said Bruce Tremper, a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center.

Lund was skiing with two other Norwegians Wednesday when they separated, said Lt. Paul Jaroscak of the Salt Lake County sheriff’s office. Authorities were alerted about 7 p.m., but the man’s location was not known.

Wasatch Powderbird Guides, which transports skiers to mountain peaks, dropped charges from a helicopter to clear snow Thursday and detected Lund’s body from a signal emitting from his avalanche beacon.

“It is such an unstable area,” Jaroscak said.

Indeed, Tremper said avalanche risks remain high outside groomed ski resorts because fresh snow is sitting on top of “tortilla chips” ” snow that sat for weeks during a dry winter stretch.

“It’s extremely weak and brittle. It’s like putting a brick on a pile of potato chips,” Tremper said.

There were 11 consecutive days of human-triggered avalanches through Wednesday, he said.

Four people ” two skiers and two snowmobilers ” have died in avalanches in Utah since Saturday. Three people died in avalanches last weekend in Montana and Idaho.

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