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Search And Rescue Calls Are On The Rise Again In The Wasatch Mountains

A photo at Lake Blanche.
Brandon Rasmussen
In May, Salt Lake County Search and Rescue received about double the amount of calls that they did last year. Now, officials are sharing some tips to keep yourself safe in the outdoors.

Earlier this month, a hiker and a climber both died in the Wasatch mountains in one weekend.

It’s unusual to have two deaths that close together, according Ryan Clerico with Salt Lake County Search and Rescue.

The incidents are part of a trend of increasing search and rescue calls in the area. Calls on the Wasatch Front are on the rise again this spring. Officials say a low snowpack and the pandemic could be to blame.

In May, Salt Lake County Search and Rescue received about double the amount of calls that they did last year.

Clerico said that’s partially because the mountains got less snow this year, so people are venturing out earlier.

“If you're unprepared to go out in the snow in the winter, you rarely get more than a couple hundred feet from your car before you realize it was a really bad idea,” he said. “You get into this time of season and people have a little more confidence — maybe going further than they would have [when it’s cold out].”

In Utah County, Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon said their search and rescue team has gotten about the same amount of calls this spring as last spring. But that’s still more than they typically got pre-pandemic.

“Last year people got in the habit of going outside and realized how much fun it could be,” he said.

Here are some tips from Cannon and Clerico to keep yourself safe in the outdoors :

  • Prepare to be out for longer than you think you’ll be.
  • Pack extra clothes.
  • Pack extra water and food.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  • If you get in trouble, call Search and Rescue:
    • Salt Lake County: 801 743-7000
    • Utah County: 801-794-3970
    • 911 for Emergency Calls
Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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