One skier was killed and two others injured yesterday morning when an avalanche swept a group of four down the very intense Sickle Couloir on Mount Moran in Wyoming while they were ascending. The avalanche reportedly swept the skiers 500-vertical-feet down the couloir over rock and ice.
The man killed was Luke Lynch, a 38-year-old Jackson, WY resident. He was skiing the 3,100-foot-long, 45-degree Sickle Couloir on 12,605′ Mt. Moran with three others at the time of the avalanche. The avalanche is being reported as a wet, loose snow avalanche.
“The group was ascending when a shallow wet slough avalanche released above them.” – Jackie Skaggs, Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman
The group included Zahan Billimoria, 37, the famous Exum mountain guide who has been working with Teton Gravity Research guiding athletes in their ski movies. He recently guided Jeremy Jones on the Grand Teton in deep powder for the TGR movie “Higher.” Zahan got out of the avalanche uninjured and was able to drag his injured companions out of the avalanche path to escape the snow that was continuing to fall down the avalanche path. It’s unknown wether Zahan was guiding this group or not.
Stephen Adamson, 42, was critically injured in the avalanche and was flown to Jackson Hole Airport and then to Eastern Idaho Regional Medial Center in Idaho Falls.
Another skier, Brook Yeomans, 37, was hurt in the avalanche as well but escaped with minor injuries.
Park rangers recieved their distress call yesterday morning at 9:30am and arrived at the scene of the fatal avalanche before noon. Everyone was off the mountain by 3pm.
Jackie Skaggs, Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman, reported that rescuers at the 9,000′ level were forced to leave the rescue area at one point due to “continued avalanche activity.” Snow showers on the mountain yesterday added to the difficulty of the rescue.
Mount Moran’s summit rises 6,000-vertical-feet above Jackson Lake. Sickle Couloir is a classic extreme skiing descent involving over 3,000-vertical-feet of skiing at steepnesses up to 45 degrees. Sickle Couloir was first skied in the year 2000.
This was the 10th avalanche death in the USA this winter. The USA averages 28 avalanche deaths per winter.