Avalanche: Brighton Perimeter

Observer Name
Observation Date
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Avalanche Date
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Salt Lake » Big Cottonwood Canyon » Brighton Perimeter
Location Name or Route
Brighton Backcountry - Mary Chutes
Slope Angle
Trigger: additional info
Unintentionally Triggered
Avalanche Type
Hard Slab
Avalanche Problem
Wind Drifted Snow
Weak Layer
New Snow/Old Snow Interface
It looks sorta benign, but just like other avalanches in the same zone, these slides are meaty, packing heat, and stacking up knee twisting debris.
[Forecaster Comments: Thanks to the person who submitted this avalanche accident report, their honest assessment is greatly appreciated. As we learn more about this avalanche, we may add photos as well as identifying the likely weak layer this avalanche failed on.]
I was riding Millicent lift backcountry (past Milli bowl). I took the high line pushing skiers right all the way to the very steep chutes that are visible From Crest (looking to your right). I dropped off a ~10 foot cliff into what looked to be an absolutely pristine untouched chute (maybe 40 feet wide) with a gradient steepness of approximately 35-40. I landed the cliff drop into what felt like perfect powder (soft, no top crust etc.).after landing I made a slight heelside turn to trim a bit of speed and the next thing I knew I was being carried down the mountain with unbelievable force. I tried swimming to the surface as I saw the light turn from bluebird, to somewhat muddied dark, to almost pitch black. The slide carried me down approximately 100-200ft, submerged on my back. Fortunately, the chute steepness after those 100-200 feet flattens out to a mellow grade of 15-20 degrees. When the avalanche stopped, I was buried from up to my chest, but fortunately, my body wasn't vertical, but more perpendicular, so with some effort I was able to free myself from the snow.
Upon looking back up at the slide, it looked like it spread out approximately 150-200 feet across.
I've been snowboarding for 30 years, and besides some sluff, and some spider cracking causing slabs to break below me, this was my first experience of being in an actual avalanche. Had there been any debris/exposure below me, or had I sunk just a little more I wouldn't be writing this. I am shaken to my core. But hopefully this is helpful for others.
I feel very lucky to be alive. I ride with a beacon, but I also ride solo - so I'm at a loss of what a beacon would do, if no one was around to see the slide take place.
Thank you for all that you do at Utah Avalanche Center. Up until today avalanches felt very remote and unreal. Today it was very real, and I feel VERY lucky to have escaped it without serious consequences.