Avalanche in Salt River Range claims snowmobiler’s life

Update 9 a.m. Dec. 22: The snowmobiler has been identified as Brandon Jones, 41, of Elko, Nevada.

JACKSON, Wyo. — A snowmobiler lost their life Friday after he was caught in an avalanche near Sheep Pass in the Salt River Range.

The snowmobiler was caught and deployed an airbag. Part of his sled and a portion of his airbag is believed to have been visible in the avalanche debris. The snowmobiler was also believed to have been in a party of five and that 10 to 15 minutes may have passed before the partially buried rider was excavated. Rescuers say that he did not survive.

The site of the avalanche fatality was visited by Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center and Star Valley Search & Rescue (SVSAR) personnel on December 20. Information regarding location, terrain, snow conditions, and organized rescue was obtained.

The crown and flanks of the avalanche were obscured by drifted snow and poor visibility. Star Valley Search & Rescue volunteers who responded to the accident after sunset on December 18 were able to delineate the edges of the avalanche debris. A snow pit conducted near the accident site strongly indicates that this slab avalanche failed on the interface between a faceted old snow surface that formed during a long dry period and new snow that has accumulated on that surface since December 11.

Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center and Star Valley Search and Rescue have said that they will update as more information becomes available.

Buckrail offers sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victim.

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