JACKSON HOLE, WYO –
Grand Teton National Park rangers, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, and the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter coordinated a rescue effort for Alex Thompson, 26, of Jackson, Wyoming on Sunday, April 9 after he was caught in a soft slab avalanche in Granite Canyon.
Thompson was snowboarding in the park’s backcountry with three companions after exiting an open backcountry access gate at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski area. Thompson was traversing across the top of Air Force Couloir when the slab broke above him. The sliding snow carried him approximately 1,000 feet downhill until he came to rest atop the snow. Thompson suffered injuries during the fall due to collisions with rocks.
One of Thompson’s companions called ski patrol around 11:30 a.m. Three ski patrollers skied down to Thompson’s location with a rescue toboggan and medical gear. They assessed Thompson’s condition and prepared him for ski-toboggan transport to the bottom of Granite Canyon and eventual aerial rescue.
Meanwhile, park rangers met the TCSAR helicopter and prepared to fly to the patient. With two park rangers on board, the helicopter landed near Thompson’s location and the rangers brought him aboard. Thompson was flown to a temporary staging area along the Chapel of the Transfiguration road at 1:47 p.m., just as deteriorating weather conditions made visibility increasingly difficult. Thompson was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center.
A snowboarder was caught in an avalanche last weekend in Granite Canyon while traversing Air Force Couloir.
Alex Thompson, of Jackson, was swept to the bottom of the couloir at about 11:30 am on Sunday. He was rescued by ski patrol and park rangers, and transported via helicopter from the scene. The snowboarder sustained nonlife-threatening injuries.