2 Local Skiers Caught in Avalanche After Leaving Snow King Mountain, WY, Resort Boundary

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Credit: TCSAR

At 12:47 pm on Friday, February 24, Teton County Search & Rescue received an alert about an avalanche involving two skiers on an out-of-bounds run on Snow King Mountain, WY. The skiers exited a gate at the top of the mountain and descended a backcountry area known as Scotty’s Ridge when they triggered the avalanche. Both skiers were local residents on lunch breaks carrying avalanche safety equipment. They were both caught in the slide and lost their skis in the incident, with one skier partially buried and sustaining injuries.

Credit: TCSAR

TCSAR responded with a short-haul team in the helicopter and other volunteers responding up the Snow King gondola to descend on skis to the two skiers. After assessing the situation, TCSAR short-hauled both skiers to a landing zone and a waiting ambulance at the START Bus Barn. In a short-haul operation, rescuers use the helicopter to lift a patient harnessed to the end of a rope for a short flight out of the backcountry. It is often used in steep, technical terrain where landing a helicopter is not an option or when injuries are life-threatening.

TCSAR appreciates the help and coordination on this rescue from Snow King Mountain and Ski Patrol. This accident is a good reminder that Snow King’s out-of-bounds is not avalanche-controlled and that the terrain should be taken seriously despite its close proximity to town.

The Snow King avalanche was the second call of the day for TCSAR. Just minutes earlier, at 12:35 p.m., the team was called regarding a skier with a dislocated shoulder above Ski Lake on Teton Pass. The team began assembling a response with snowmobiles and the helicopter. As the volunteers were gearing up to head out into the field, the party called to say they could self-rescue and get out on their own. The team stood down on that call while volunteers mobilized for the Snow King rescue.

Write up and images from TCSAR Facebook post.

Credit: BTAC

Today’s avalanche danger was rated as moderate, with the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center saying, “Human triggered avalanches are possible at all elevations in the Tetons today. Areas where the wind has stiffened the new snow into slabs that overlie slick crusts and buried weak layers are the primary concern. Pay attention to signs of instability such as audible collapsing of the snowpack and cracking within wind affected snow. Use your shovel to dig into the snowpack and determine whether weak snow or crusts are present below the new snow on the slopes you plan to ski or ride.”

Snow King Mountain trail map

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