Snowboarder dies in avalanche in Utah backcountry

A 24-year-old male snowboarder has died after becoming trapped in an avalanche in a steep Utah backcountry area that the public was warned to avoid after potent snowstorms.

The death marks the ninth avalanche fatality in the West this season, and experts say the risk of additional slides could remain high all winter.

Unified police Lt. Justin Hoyal says the victim was with two other men when the avalanche occurred Saturday morning in the Wasatch Range’s Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City.

He says the other two — a snowboarder and skier — watched as the victim descended Kessler Peak and triggered an avalanche. They found his body less than an hour later using avalanche beacons. The victim’s name and hometown were not immediately released.

Experts say a weak base layer of snow, packed with large grains of ice, is plaguing parts of Utah, Colorado, Montana and California. They say these conditions could keep avalanche risks high for the rest of the season.

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