JACKSON, Wyo. — There have already been 26 reported avalanches in the Bridger Teton National Forest since Thanksgiving Day. Plenty were natural, but just as many were skier or snowmobile triggered, including one just yesterday outside the Grand Targhee boundaries.
At 3:22 p.m. yesterday, a skier triggered a large slab avalanche in Steve Baugh Bowl just outside the resort boundary. According to Bob Comey, director of the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, the skier was carried in the slide but not buried or injured. Ski patrollers at Grand Targhee acted quickly and searched the debris with transceivers and rescue dogs to make sure no one else was caught.
“Thanks to the team at Targhee,” Comey said. “They did all the work late yesterday and then passed all that good information onto us.”
The slide was triggered while the solo skier was digging a pit at the top of the slope, Comey said. The same slope had been skied by other parties prior to the slide — a good reminder that tracks don’t indicate stability.
A snowmobiler was also fully buried on Togwotee December 2. He escaped without injuries. The snowmobiler triggered the avalanche in a low-angle, wooded area that the group believed was safe. The victim was fully buried and found by other riders in his group. According to the JH Avalanche report, everyone in the group had the appropriate gear, including airbags, but the victim’s airbag would have been no use in this case. No one in the group had formal avalanche certification or education beyond basic awareness classes.
The victim posted a video of the slide to Facebook with lessons he learned from the incident. “Always keep your head up and pay attention to your surroundings,” he wrote. “It can happen anytime and anywhere…even in the trees.”
Presenters at last night’s Avalanche Awareness Night shared valuable information about staying safe in the backcountry. There are plenty of resources to help you stay in the know, including Buckrail’s daily snow and weather report that includes avalanche information from the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center. For a full avalanche report, visit JHAvalanche.org.
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