Skiers trigger slide in Grand Teton National Park

JACKSON (WNE) — Five skiers triggered an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park on Sunday afternoon.

The Teton County Search and Rescue team was contacted at 2:11 p.m. after park rangers requested helicopter assistance to respond to an injured 29-year-old skier on Prospectors Mountain inside the park.

The skier, a local woman, and four men were near the top of the Banana Couloir at 10,800 feet when they triggered and were caught by an avalanche.

“Three in the group were able to self-arrest, while one of the men was carried 500 feet and the woman was carried by the snow slide approximately 1,500 vertical feet,” a Grand Teton National Park press release said. “Neither skier was fully buried; however, the woman sustained serious injuries.”

The search and rescue team was able to see the skiers on the mountainside when the helicopter flew up, said Matt Hansen, communications director for the Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation. No skiers required excavation from below the debris.

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center characterized it as a “wind slab avalanche.”

“The avalanche did not step down to the Jan. 4 layer and only involved the most recent storm snow,” according to its website. Eight other avalanches were observed Sunday, the website said.

“It’s hard to say if they should’ve done anything differently,” Hansen said. “It sounds like they were skinning up and got up pretty high up Prospectors when they triggered the avalanche.”

Deeper weak layers persist beneath the fresh upper layer. As of Monday afternoon, avalanche danger remained “considerable” at higher elevations, with conservative terrain choices recommended.

 

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