Backcountry skier rescued from avalanche near Moab

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GRAND COUNTY — A backcountry skier was taken to the hospital Wednesday afternoon after being rescued from an avalanche on Utah’s second highest mountain range, located on the eastern border of the state about 15 miles east of Moab.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, several backcountry skiers were skiing in the Gold Basin – northwest side of Mount Peale – area of the La Sal Mountains when one of the skiers became caught in an avalanche.

The La Sal Mountains are Utah’s second highest mountain range, rising above the red rock canyon country of southeastern Utah, according to The range contains six peaks that rise above 12,000 feet, the tallest being Mount Peale at 12,721 feet.

The skier, identified as 34-year-old Justin Caggiano, of Moab, was swept away in the avalanche, according to a media statement issued by San Juan County Sheriff’s Office Thursday.

At one time during the slide, Caggiano was completely covered, according to the Sheriff’s Office. But, as the slide began to slow, he emerged back on top and only partially covered.

Friends of Caggiano were able to contact the Grand County Sheriff’s Office who in turn dispatched both the Grand and San Juan counties search and rescue teams.

Caggiano suffered a “major injury” to his leg during the incident, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Caggiano was extricated and transported to the Moab Regional Hospital.

According to, there have been two reported avalanche fatalities in Utah this year.

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