VIDEO: Backcountry Skier Shares Recount of Mount Superior, UT Avalanche That Carried Him Over 2,200 Vertical Feet at 77 MPH

Jared Inouye is a lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah and an avid backcountry skier.

On Friday, March 27, 2020 he was caught in a large avalanche on Mount Superior in the Little Cottonwood Canyon backcountry near Alta, Utah. 

The slide carried him over 2,200 vertical feet and he recorded a maximum speed of 77 mph with his Strava app on his phone. The full interview with Jared can be watched below.

Going 77 mph on skis is hard to imagine, let alone when caught in an avalanche that is about to bury you.

We wanted to talk to Jared to figure out what may have went wrong that day, and how we as a community of backcountry skiers and riders can learn from his experience.

In this interview he recounts the events leading up to the avalanche that almost killed him. He shares insights on learnings he’s had from it, as well as possible red flags he may have missed that day. 

Jared wraps up the interview by sharing a message he has for backcountry skiers and how he hopes they can learn from his recent experience. 

“As someone who has experienced the consequence of an avalanche, I just hope that that will someone how translate to other people so that they make better choices,” Jared said.

We at SnowBrains are exceptionally thankful for Jared’s willingness to talk about this dramatic event, and his transparency about it. We know it takes courage to talk about things like these, and we can all learn from his account. 

Additional information on the March 27, Mount Superior avalanche can be found on Jared’s Instagram, with his recent posts attached below.
 

View this post on Instagram

Hi everyone. I stepped on a big one yesterday and got carried over 2000 feet and ended up fully, but shallowly buried. I should have died. Because I didn’t I’m sharing this experience with you. #avalanche #utavy #wasatchbackcountry #avalanchesafety . Yesterday @slcviking and I skied N. Superior and S. Superior. It was glorious. I wanted more. So, knowing that a couple family members were headed up, I said goodbye to @slcviking and went to catch up with them. When I reached the booter at about 10,600, my brother called me and said they had gone over the Black Knob and were going to drop from there. So, I decided to drop from 10,600 and meet them at the bottom. . When I dropped, my intent was to ski across a convex start zone to a puffy ridge. Turns out that I ski cut a sensitive slab way too low and dead center. I didn’t reach the ridge and was swept away. I lost my feet. There was no way to arrest and immediately I was engulfed in the avalanche, tumbling, falling, and slamming into stuff. I went over a cliff band, through a choke, and was carried to mid-apron on S. Superior. According to Strava, max speed was 77.2 mph and I went .75 miles. . When I realized what I had done, I immediately knew what to expect because I triggered one on S. Superior summit in 2012. I knew probability of injury or death was high. Being airborne in free fall and not knowing what would happen on impact was harrowing, as was the thought was that death was imminent. The avalanche would constrict and squeeze me. It felt so heavy. There was one point where I nearly lost consciousness and all hope. But just as it was getting really dark, the cycle put me close to the surface and I saw light and got air. As the train began to slow, I readied myself for burial and death. When the flow stopped, I was fully buried. But I didn’t feel the immense weight and I could see the surface. I thrashed my head to create space and was able to cough out the snow that filled my lungs and throat. I gathered my wits, caught my breath, and eventually freed my arm. With that I was able to worm out of the debris. . I feel very fortunate and very guilty. Please try and learn from this.

A post shared by Jared Inouye (@jaredinouye) on Mar 28, 2020 at 6:49am PDT