Sundance Avalanche

Sundance Ski Resort - Utah County, Utah
DC Class X - Natural Condition, Avalanche

In the winter of 1976 an avalanche in Utah's Rocky Mountains destroyed the "Grizzly Adams" cabin used in the filming of Jeramia Johnson. The cabin was located in an exclusive area associated with the Sundance Ski Resort, owned by the actor Robert Redford.

Numerous subsequent avalanches have occurred in this area, including one 1986 Class 4 Avalanche (Class 5 is the worst). The only residence damaged in this incident was a 6,500 sq. ft. cabin owned by the real estate author Robert G. Allen (Nothing Down). The cabin was condemned. Due to the destruction of trees and other natural defenses, the avalanches continued.

In 1996, another avalanche (Class 3) impacted a total of four cabins within the "Nothing Down" finger or path (named after the previous 1986 slide). One house was not hit by the avalanche, but by the shock waves. The house was blow off its foundation and ended up in a pile of rubble. The area is now considered a "frequent return interval", with eminent future exposure to avalanche hazard.

The cabins ranged in value from approximately $1 million to $3 million and were either completely destroyed or significantly damaged. All four cabins have been condemned. Sales in the area are very limited. The insurance company that owned the condemned Allan cabin recently sold the damaged property for a substantial discount. The new owner received a building permit in 1997 for a "three season residence". Utah County has placed the site within the "modified procedural or operational" classification. In other words, the residence may not be occupied in the winter, and the property must be rebuilt if it is destroyed. Other homeowners are in litigation.

The County has yet to implement an avalanche hazard zone classification, similar to Flood Zone Maps, which would alert buyers of the danger. Utah County is currently considering implementing the international hazard zoning for this area. Red zones would not permit any new structures or the rebuilding of existing structures. Blue zones would permit limited construction for private residences. Yellow and White zones would permit public and private improvements. There are currently no disclosure laws in Utah regarding avalanches; however, prudent agents are notifying parties if information is available.