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Sobering Avalanche Footage from Jackson Hole Sidecountry - 1-2-2012

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I posted this in the "Jackson Hole Snow" thread, but I thought I'd add a thread of its own just to make sure that as many people as possible see it.


This video was posted by Jamie Culp (whom I don't know) yesterday and the slide happened the day before.  It was the first warm, sunny day after a 30" storm.  As Jamie says in the comments, "Red flags were plentiful... and we almost got seriously spanked." I think that's putting it pretty mildly:



The actual video is really hard to follow because the guy doing the filming took his eye off the viewfinder to try to watch the rider, but you should be able to get a good feel for how huge this avalanche was and how lucky the boarder was that it didn't let go about a second later than it did.

post #2 of 16

Looks like any more cover might have been deadly.  It appears he was able to lay sideways grab hold of that protruding rock as it let loose under his feet.  A foot more base cover and that wouldn't have been an option.

post #3 of 16

Wow. Luck alone. 

post #4 of 16

Wondering if the rider punched his hands down hard and kicked the board up.

And someone had to "whoop" it up?

post #5 of 16

I haven't even been drinking, and that sobered me right the F up! A whole lot of luck, and maybe some intuition with the snowpack, hence that hard rt hand cut before sending it.

post #6 of 16

Wow, lucky dude! Crazy how quickly that stuff takes off. gonna be a wild season.

post #7 of 16

Not even one little bit of "intuition" involved here.  The guy was wing-nut and got very lucky.  No one who knows ANYTHING about snow would have even been there in the first place.  I also don't think that "hard rt hand cut" was a particularly great cut as ski cuts go.

Originally Posted by Toadman View Post

I haven't even been drinking, and that sobered me right the F up! A whole lot of luck, and maybe some intuition with the snowpack, hence that hard rt hand cut before sending it.


post #8 of 16


post #9 of 16

Holy shit, that was huge.  He's lucky it fractured right there, a few more feet in and he'd be going with it.  Looks like a dangerous avy area to me.

post #10 of 16

That boarder needs to buy a lottery ticket, he is lucky as hell. If he had been taken over those rocks with the slide, it would be a whole different story. 

post #11 of 16

Two Died on Saturday..

The man from Bozeman was originally from CT. I know people who knew him.


Quote: From Bozeman Daily Chronicle



Bozeman man and one other killed in Cooke City avalanches on New Years Eve.

JOLENE KELLER, Chronicle Staff Writer | Posted: Sunday, January 1, 2012 5:17 pm


Two men died in separate avalanches near Cooke City on Saturday, according to the Park County Sheriff’s Department.

One victim was a 44-year-old Bozeman man. The other was a 46-year-old man from Sidney, Mont. The Park County Sheriff’s Office did not release their names Sunday afternoon.


The first avalanche happened approximately 3 miles north of Cooke City in Fischer Creek, said Doug Chabot of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.

The Sidney man was snowmobiling with two other men when, around noon, he triggered an avalanche. The avalanche broke between 1 to 4 feet deep and was 300 to 400 feet wide, Chabot said. It ran for 1,300 vertical feet. Neither of the other two men were caught in the slide.

Eric Knoff of the avalanche center witnessed the avalanche and helped in the rescue attempt. The Sidney man was buried under three feet of heavy snow. It took 10 to 12 minutes to reach him, and he did not survive.

Park County authorities said the men had safety equipment with them.


Cooke City members of the Park County search and rescue team responded, along with Yellowstone National Park rangers and deputies from Park County.


The second fatal avalanche happened around 2 p.m. at the base of Pilot Peak, south of Cooke City in the Shoshone National Forest of Wyoming.

A Bozeman man cross-country skiing with another person was going up a drainage when he triggered the avalanche, Chabot said. The person was buried, and his companion could not locate him.

Authorities received a call about the avalanche at about 6:44 p.m. Again, searchers from Cooke City responded to the call. The Park County Sheriff’s Office and Coroner took the call because poor road and weather conditions made it impossible for Wyoming authorities to reach the scene.


Chabot said Sunday afternoon that he was on his way to the scene of the second avalanche and would prepare a full incident report for Monday.

These first area avalanche deaths of the winter took place not long after three feet of heavy, dense snow fell on the Cooke City area’s extremely weak snowpack.


The avalanche center issued a warning Friday for all of southwest Montana. The warning, Chabot said, applies to the mountains around Bozeman.

The warning states that natural and human-triggered avalanches are likely on all slopes, that conditions are highly unstable, that avalanches can easily be triggered below slopes and even on flat terrain and that they can propagate long distances.


“Because of the rapid snow load, avalanche danger spiked quickly this weekend,” Chabot said Sunday.


Snow Pit Video at Cooke City:





Quote: From Bozeman Daily Chronicle


Avalanche victims had taken precautions

GAIL SCHONTZLER, Chronicle Staff Writer | Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 12:15 am

The 44-year-old Bozeman man killed in a weekend avalanche near Cooke City was remembered Monday as “a great colleague, a great conservationist and good friend.”

David Lee Gaillard was the Northern Rockies representative for the Defenders of Wildlife, said Mike Leahy, the conservation group’s Rocky Mountain regional director.


“David was a real leader in conservation of smaller predators—lynx, wolverines, fishers and martens,” Leahy said. “He was very well respected, very fun loving. Our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, as we try to grapple with the loss ourselves.”

Park County Coroner Al Jenkins identified Gaillard as one of two men killed Saturday by separate avalanches near Cooke City.


Gaillard had been cross-country skiing with his wife, Kerry Corcoran Gaillard, southeast of Cooke City when the avalanche occurred about 2 p.m. After he was buried, his wife was unable to find him. She traveled back to Cooke City to report the accident, and emergency searchers recovered his body.

Jeff Gaillard said he had been backcountry skiing over 20 years with his brother, David, who was aware of the dangers of steep slopes, had the right safety gear, and had a deliberate plan to ski in the safer valleys and trees.


“That makes this all the more tragic,” Jeff Gaillard said.

Kerry Gaillard, a Bozeman High School teacher, had been skiing behind David, who was more in the open when the avalanche hit. She said a small slide apparently triggered a bigger slide.

“He was thinking of me first,” she said. “His last words to me were, ‘Retreat to the trees.’ I think he saw what was coming from above, that I did not see. That reflects Dave’s amazing quality -– thinking of others.”

She managed to grab a tree on the edge of the slide as the avalanche went rushing by. It also buried the couple’s dog.

“He was my dear friend,” Kerry said of David, whom she married one year ago. “We were really, really in love.”


The other victim was 46-year-old Jody Ray Verhasselt of Sidney, who had been snowmobiling about three miles north of Cooke City with family and friends when that avalanche occurred around noon.

Eric Knoff, avalanche forecaster with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, said he and a colleague happened to be doing snowpack assessments on an adjacent slope, about a half-mile away, when the avalanche hit Verhasselt. According to authorities, he triggered the avalanche, about 300 feet wide, which ran for 1,300 feet.

“I looked up and saw a snowmobiler trying to outrun an avalanche,” Knoff said. “We saw him disappear in a wall of white.”

Knoff said he immediately called search and rescue in Cooke City, and went to help the two members of Verhasselt’s party.


Though Verhasselt was buried under 4 feet of snow, the toe of his boot was sticking out, and he was uncovered in 10 to 12 minutes. Unfortunately, he was not breathing, so they immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Knoff said. After about 20 minutes or so, rescuers arrived with an auto-defibrillator. Despite that and about 40 minutes of CPR, the attempt to revive the victim was unsuccessful. It was emotional for the victim’s party.


All three snowmobilers had been equipped with avalanche rescue gear – a shovel, beacon and probe.

The Avalanche Center had issued an avalanche hazard warning Saturday, Knoff said, that the snow that fell Thursday through Saturday had created dangerous conditions and human-triggered avalanches were very likely on all slopes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


The Dog, presumed dead, showed up at their hotel room:

Quote: http://www.mtavalanche.com/current


Good news: In the avalanche in Hayden Creek south of Cooke City, a dog (a Corgi) was caught and presumed to be buried and dead. However, yesterday afternoon this dog appeared at the Antlers Lodge outside the hotel room where the victim and his wife were staying. Residents of Cooke City helped reunite this dog with its family.


More info at:  http://www.mtavalanche.com/

post #12 of 16

I was on Puckerface last january! that is one sick run. I started about where the snowboarder did his cut. Lucky guys!

post #13 of 16

I was at JHMR last week (sorry I didn't look you up, Bob... was busy trying to make the most of my one outing this year).  I'd heard a rumor from another rider about an avalanche somewhere close by... but was told it was people poaching the hobacks before they were open?

post #14 of 16

It was interesting to read the TGR forum on this, and see several posts about "somebody stupid will eventually drop Puckerface" crop up well before this avalanche took place.  One post mentioned that the avy danger had been dropped from 'high' to 'considerable' and theorized that gave the skier/boarder the thumbs up to try it.  Looking at the snow on that slope, I wonder if it would have ever 'consolidated'?  Might have been good to press the reset button.


I was skiing there that day, but missed seeing it or even hearing about it.

post #15 of 16

The dog in the Montana avalanche lived... Story below. 



post #16 of 16

Amazing. The dog traveled four miles back to the hotel.

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