JACKSON, Wyo. — Two separate backcountry slides reported yesterday highlight the instability of the snowpack to date. With forecasted heavy snow for the next several days, conditions are likely to worsen significantly.
Near Grand Targhee on Tuesday, a large slab avalanche was triggered by a person hiking uphill in the Hollywood Rocks area near Scotty’s Gate just out-of-bounds in a backcountry portion accessed from the resort’s eastern boundary. The incident occurred at about 9,446′ elevation.
Reports say the avalanche broke loose some on faceted snow near the base of the snowpack. Three hikers were caught in the slide. One was fully buried. Two others were partially buried. Others with the group were able to dig their mates free.
Meanwhile, a slide in the backcountry at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was triggered Tuesday afternoon when four skiers successfully navigated the entrance to Broken Branch, a south-facing run in JHMR accessed backcountry. A fifth wasn’t so fortunate.
The fifth skier in the group triggered an avalanche. According to members of the group, no one was caught in the incident, which occurred at about 8,925′ elevation. The slab was estimated at three feet in depth and appeared to have broken loose on a crust layer from the recent storm cycle.
Those in the group performed a beacon search, skiing the chute after the slide to make sure no one was caught in the snow. They did not have any resulting hits.
Avalanche danger is “considerable” in the Tetons right now. BT Avalanche Center advises skiers “exercise caution route finding by identifying wind loaded terrain and by evaluating the snowpack, particularly in areas where the weak basal snow exists.”
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