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Avalanche kills snowboarder in half-mile slide

A 24-year-old 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.


NBC affiliate KSL TV reported that Alecsander Barton was with two other men when the avalanche occurred Saturday morning in the Wasatch Range's Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City. 

Heading back from Stewart, British Colombia, Aaron Garner captures a controlled avalanche technicians set off to clear a highway pass. TODAY.com's Dara Brown reports.

The other two — a snowboarder and skier — watched as Barton descended Kessler Peak and triggered an avalanche that carried him an estimated 2,400 feet, or half a mile, down the mountain. They found his body under three feet of snow about an hour later using avalanche beacons. 

STORY: Avalanche danger across West is high

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.

Helmet-cam video shows a snowmobiler caught in an avalanche in Washington State and his friends quickly rushing to his rescue. KING-TV's Jim Forman reports.

So far, four people have died in avalanches in Colorado, three on the Wyoming-Montana border and two in Utah.

Last season saw 25 avalanche deaths, and the one before saw 36.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.