SLCo Sheriff’s SAR crew rescues 2 ‘cliffed-out’ skiers in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff's Search and Rescue

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, April 18, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Search and Rescue crews from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office spent Friday night rescuing two skiers stranded in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Crews were called out at 8:20 p.m. to assist two “cliffed out” skiers, a statement from SLCo SAR says.

“Cliffed out,” similar to “ledged up,” is a term used to describe skiers or hikers who find they can’t climb down and often cannot climb up, either.

“SLCOSAR were called out Friday evening to assist two ‘cliffed-out’ skiers near Mount Superior,” the statement says.

Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue

“The two set out from Alta early Friday afternoon, intending to ski the south face of Superior. They missed their line and ended up descending further west, between Superior and Monte Cristo.

“They enjoyed turns in excellent snow until encountering a cliff band which blocked downhill progress. They realized they were not on the south face of Superior and as they had no technical gear to rappel or knowledge of a ‘sneak route’ around the cliffs, they decided to call for help.”

Crews arrived at the scene, observing the stranded skiers with the naked eye and through night-vision apparatus, shown below.

Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue

“It was decided the skiers should go back up to the summit of Superior where they would have the option to descend either the south face or back down the approach route,” the SLCo SAR statement says.

“A team of four rescuers was deployed on skis, using the approach route and intending to reach and supply the patients with warm clothing, headlamps, food and water before skiing back down with them.”

A helicopter shone a light on the skiers’ location as the ski darkened.

Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue

“A team of rescuers were able to watch the skiers slow progress uphill from a spot on LCC road below Snowbird, using night vision and thermal imaging optics. After a short time, the DPS crew was available, flew to the patients’ location, and determined they could hoist them off the mountain.”

As the ground team was an hour or more away and the patients still had considerable elevation to gain the summit, a hoist operation was chosen, the statement says.

“It was also around 15 degrees on the mountain and the skiers had been out for more than 8 hours. The hoist operation went smoothly and soon both patients were back at Alta base.”

The ground team was recalled, made a few turns in the dark and returned to command safely. All were off the mountain by 11:30 pm.

“We thank the Utah Department of Public Safety, Alta Marshals and Alta Ski Patrol for their assistance with the rescue,” the statement says.

It also invited interested parties to learn more about the organization through its website.

Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue

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