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Possible Avalanche Fatality at Jackson Hole - 1/5/07

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I just got a phone call from a friend in JH saying that there was an out-of-bounds avalanche fatality today. My info is second-hand, so some of this may turn out to be incorrect.

Three caught, one buried, who died of suffocation. He was dug out relatively quickly but cpr failed to revive him.

The location was a couloir called "Fat Bastard", which hangs above the Green River Traverse. The Green River Traverse is one of the main backcountry routes to much of the out-of-bounds to the south of Rendezvous Bowl. This is particularly spooky for me because I was on the Green River Traverse early this morning, doing one quick ob run before jumping on a plane. I'm typing this from Denver International between flights.

This is also kind of spooky because EpicSkier madmanmlh is in Jackson right now and was hoping to do some bc skiing with some friends. madmanmlh, I hope you're okay this evening.

The rumor is that the party that was caught was a film crew of some sort. I don't know who at this point, other than the fact that all of the TGR people seem to be accounted for.

What's particularly discouraging about this is that there were a total of seven people caught in slides YESTERDAY in the JH backcountry. The avalanche report this morning was telling people to be especially careful.

I'm sure more details will come out tomorrow.

Everybody stay safe. We've got some very unstable snow conditions here, and I'm sure we're not alone.
post #2 of 15
Yes they already posted this at the JH Avalanche website

http://www.jhavalanche.org/scripts/a...ction=bulletin

"A skier died today as a result of an avalanche in the backcountry south of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This incident occurred in a steep northeasterly cliff area near the start of the Green River Traverse. The victim was a member of a group three alpine skiers who entered the backcountry from the resort boundary. They triggered a surface slab. Our condolences go out to his friends and family."
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JackFrost View Post
Yes they already posted this at the JH Avalanche website

http://www.jhavalanche.org/scripts/a...ction=bulletin

"A skier died today as a result of an avalanche in the backcountry south of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This incident occurred in a steep northeasterly cliff area near the start of the Green River Traverse. The victim was a member of a group three alpine skiers who entered the backcountry from the resort boundary. They triggered a surface slab. Our condolences go out to his friends and family."
Bad news.

I was hoping the phone call I got was exaggerated rumor mill stuff. Sorry to hear it actually happened.

RIP
post #4 of 15
More news is becoming available. This news story says the victim is a 24 year old. From the TGR thread it appears an eyewitness says the first name is Jason. The rescue was apparently very fast, and the cause of death is uncertain:
Quote:
The man was only buried for about a minute before rescuers dug him out and found he had a pulse and labored breathing. He had an injury to his left lower leg and no other apparent injuries. Jackson Hole Ski Patrol helped in the rescue, the Sheriff's Office reported.
Condolences to the young man's family and friends. Its very sad.
post #5 of 15
fatality confirmed
im fine, thanks bob. Im going that direction come monday conditions permiting. I just spoke to a friend about the slide and it seems that all 3 in the group were on the same face at the same time. The face broke above them in the fat bastard area. The man killed broke his hip and/or femur and died from bleeding internally. Im really sad to hear this, this is the second time ive been out here while someone has been killed.
I wish people were more careful in these conditions. jhavalanche said that there were numerous avi's yesterday and to expect more today.

again thanks for the concern Bob, i really take it to heart

marcus
post #6 of 15
Madman, glad to know you're okay.

Things like this leave me in awe. I am deeply sorry to hear of this tragedy. So, sad.
post #7 of 15
Wow, all three on the face at the same time? I really don't know the area, but that makes me think they weren't experienced. Of course there are several bc spots where it's reasonably safe for everyone to ride at once. The 110's on Berthoud Pass being an example. It is possible the 110's could catch ya with your pants down. Perhaps this is an example of that?

Sad. RIP.
post #8 of 15
Condolences to the skiers family and to those who were skiing with him its a terrible thing to witness firsthand and a terrible thing to lose a friend or relative to an avalanche.

Thanks for the report Bob Peters.
post #9 of 15
Sorry to hear about this. Heartfelt wishes for peace for all the friends and family.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
Wow, all three on the face at the same time? I really don't know the area, but that makes me think they weren't experienced. Of course there are several bc spots where it's reasonably safe for everyone to ride at once. The 110's on Berthoud Pass being an example. It is possible the 110's could catch ya with your pants down. Perhaps this is an example of that?

Sad. RIP.
Looks like poor choices to me....http://www.planetjh.com/mander_2007_01_10_slide.html

HB

Hope this educates a few of the terrorists (tourists) that think they know what they're getting into when the come to the Tetons.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarkinBanks View Post
Looks like poor choices to me....http://www.planetjh.com/mander_2007_01_10_slide.html

HB

Hope this educates a few of the terrorists (tourists) that think they know what they're getting into when the come to the Tetons.
Hi, Harkin. Thanks for the link.

IMHO, you and killclimbz are both right, and the photo confirms it. That's a hanging snowfield and they put three people on it simultaneously on a day when there had been seven people caught in slides the day before.

I've been reluctant to say anything because you hate to speak ill of someone in a tragedy like this.

I've been going crazy over a thread at TGR, however.

http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=72740

A friend of several members of this party goes to great lengths to "Clear Some Things Up". These sentences are what really got me:

"Everyone involved was experienced. Justin is a Jackson local. Josh used to be a local. One of those involved is an avalanche instructor. Like I said in the other thread, a lack of experience or knowledge of the area was not a factor.

It is also important to note that we believe the slide to be natural as no one was moving when it broke loose and it broke loose a significant diestance above where anyone had been."


It's understandable that most everyone posting to that thread was expressing condolences, and that's the natural thing to do. Not one person called him on this statement, however.

Experienced, knowledgeable people just don't put three bodies in harm's way at the same time on a slope like that. I don't like the implication that this was an unavoidable, NATURAL avalanche. There's obviously no way to ever know for sure, but it sure doesn't look like smart avy practice to me.

Slope + sliding surface + slab + LOAD = Release

That's snow safety 101.
post #12 of 15
Having only been in one avalanche, I don't know much about them. It looks like a small area and maybe they felt safe because of that. I'm looking at the picture and it seems that the slide area was not that tall. This could have made them less concerned about the potential slide while being more concerned about the ledge. In the end it was the fall that killed him or so it seems.

Three guys on that steep slope, in a spot where other smaller slides occur all the time. Not a good place to be. They were probably attracted to the soft landing all the new snow provided, an error in judgement and a tragedy.
post #13 of 15
Well folks, im back from jackson.
Honestly i dont know what those guys were doing out there to begin with. I skied rocksprings and why not all day this past monday and it was fantastic. Great stabulity, heavier snow, but still the best runs of my life. Higher up however, is a death trap. Puckerface and half of cody peak ripped shortly after i got out there. Powder 8 face looks great, but its just one massive slide waiting to happen. There is a REALLY weak layer at that altitude. The 3 guys in the accident clearly ignored all warning signs. I know that that area can be great, ive seen my buddies pics and vid's, but it even looks like a prime avalanche area. Plus it was windy as all hell, so the slope was wind loaded, ontop of a weak layer and windslab.
Despite their ignorance i still offer my condolances. I just wish people would spend more time looking at the warning signs and predictions. I spend months learning signs, weather conditions to avoid, and practicing with friends gear before i bought mine. And i still feel like i could have gotten in trouble without my friends who ski that area all the time.

Another one of my friends was involved in a successful rescue of a snowmobiler cought in a slide last week.

Too many warning signs, too many weak layers, way too many mistakes

I cant wait to get out there again though

ps: sorry I missed you out there Bob, maybe next year. I had already commit myself to ski the only day i could have gotten turns in with you
post #14 of 15

Mistakes Were Made

I'm sure I'll get some response from this, but it's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.


Thanks for the link Bob. I just got finished reading it and it just pisses me off. Yes, I'm am sorry for the loss. But the thread implies that it wasn't their fault. The reasons why

1) One was a local and the other used to be a local (avalanches don't care where you're from).

2) One of those involved was an avalanche instructor - I wonder with organization. Who knows, maybe there are 3 pits just out of the picture. But I doubt it. I also doubt that you'd see Mark Newcomb or Theo Meiers (sp?) or Lynn Wolfe (sp?) (all very respected Teton avi instructors) out on that bench and call it safe.

3) So since they weren't moving, they were not the cause of the avalanche breaking loose. Yeah right, so, I have to be moving to cause an avalanche. Avalanches are all about stress/strain. If there is enough stress/strain in the snowpack (there wasn't before the three of them went up there), then the bonds between the layers will go past the elastic/plastic limit and release - which the snowpack did after the weight of three skiers got on it. Simple engineering mechanics.

4) The post also states they'd been eyeing this shot for awhile. Well, why do it with such a sensitive snowpack? Why didn't they do it last year when we had tons of snow and that shot was almost skiable? Sounds alot like "Kodak courage" to me.

Well, in my opinion, the slide and the death was completely their fault.

Well again I'm sorry for the loss, but no one over at TGR is seeing the root cause. All of them are just on the "Sorry for the loss, bro" train and aren't seeing that mistakes were made.

HB:



Kautz, Smith and Bettner (behind the tree) just before the slide ripped.

P.S. Kautz died from a separated trachea and internal bleeding - blunt force trauma from the landing impact.
post #15 of 15
HB,
I'm with you on that one. Most of Avalanche accidents I've herad are related to human factors. 9 out of 10 times signes rae ignored and there you have it...
Same happened with the two kids here in CO. They ignored the warnings. What was the report the day they were out? Obviously no good.
I'm sorry for the loss as well , but I agree with you.
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