Greg Epstein, the TGR supervising producer, was caught in an avalanche on Sunday afternoon just outside of Jackson Hole ski resort in Wyoming. The slide occurred approximately 2pm and carried Epstein nearly 1000 vertical feet. Epstein was the only member of the three-person party to be caught in the slide, and the other two members were able to come to his aid. Epstein was not buried by the slide, and it has been reported that he was able to deploy his avalanche air bag, which would help him remain on top of the avalanche debris.
Greg Epstein practices building a rescue sled in Utah. photo: Mark Fisher/fishercreative.com
Once the party reached Epstein emergency response was notified. Jackson Hole Ski Patrol were the first on the scene due to the proximity of Granite Canyon to the resort’s boundaries. The patrollers were able to stabilize Epstein and transport him approximately 400 vertical feet downhill to a heli-accessible area. From there Epstein was flown to St. John’s Medical Center. No updates about Epstein’s condition have surfaced and he currently remains hospitalized.
View of Granite Canyon, with Air Force Chutes on the left. photo: the_suit/TGR
The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center is very progressive in their forecasting, issuing two separate avalanche bulletins for both morning and afternoon conditions. For March 9th, avalanche forecast indicated moderate rising to considerable avalanche danger at the elevation the slide was triggered. No investigation results have been posted by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, so it is unclear whether the slide was triggered on a wind slab or a persistent weak layer. Both are possible, since the start area was at the top of the Air Force Chutes.
Greg Epstein has been the supervising producer at TGR since 2010, and has been the man behind their titles since then, most recently ‘Way of Life’ and ‘Dream Factory’. It is always sad and frustrating to hear about knowledgeable and competent skiers getting hurt in avalanches. This really brings home the point, that as backcountry travellers we make as many smart decisions as possible, but there are many variables at play in avalanche terrain.