US: Avalanche instructor & forecaster Craig Patterson killed in Utah avalanche – 120413 1400z

Search and rescue workers located and recovered the body of a state avalanche forecaster early Friday morning, about six hours after he had been reported missing in a Big Cottonwood Canyon snow slide.

(Photo: utahweather.org) Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal reported the remains of 34-year-old Craig Patterson had been retrieved from the east face of Cardiff Fork area just before 1 a.m. Friday. Patterson had been reported missing by his employer, the Utah Department of Transportation, about 7:40 p.m. Thursday when his family reported him overdue.

Crews, aided by a helicopter, spotted Pattersons body just before sunset. Hoyal said he had been out checking snow stability when he got caught in an avalanche.

UDOT spokesman Nile Easton released this statement regarding the incident:

The UDOT family lost one of our own Thursday when veteran avalanche forecaster Craig Patterson died in a snow slide. Craig had worked with the department since 2006 and was a veteran back country skier. He was out doing the job that he loved to do, making the canyon safer for everyone to enjoy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones as we continue to gather information about this terrible tragedy.

Evelyn Lees of the Utah Avalanche Center also expressed sorrow, calling Patterson a friend, avalanche educator and integral part of Utah avalanche professionals trying to unravel the mysteries of snow and avalanches, and working to keep people safe.

Background:

Craig Patterson

(Photo: utahmountainadventures.com) Craig Patterson killed in Utah avalanche

A UMA rock, ice, mountaineering and ski guide since 2004, Craig has been UMAs lead Level I avalanche instructor and a Utah Department of Transportation avalanche forecaster for Provo Canyon since 2006.

Craig grew up in Switzerland where he developed his sense of place in the mountains and skied extensively throughout France. He attended college in Ohio, where he spent most of his time cragging at the Red River Gorge and climbing ice and rock in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Yet he still managed to obtain a degree in Geology. He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in the Spring of 2001 from Kathadin to Springer, and then moved to Alaska to work in the Western Chugach Mountains as an avalanche safety instructor and guide. He led ice, rock and glacier trips, and taught crevasse rescue and mountaineering skills.

Craig has done ice, rock and alpine ascents along the Front Range of Colorado, the Wind Rivers, the Chugach and Kenai mountains of Alaska, West central Wyoming and Montana, and all throughout the Wasatch and desert Southwest. Hes also done numerous ski descents throughout North America and Europe. (Written before Mr Pattersons death) utahmountainadventures.com

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