Skier Injured and Evacuated in Sidecountry Couloir ‘Mini-Gothic’ Near Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY

SnowBrains | BackcountryBackcountry


TCSAR, JHMR Ski Patrol, and Jackson Hole Fire/EMS provide care for an injured skier on March 22, 2023. Photo: TCSAR

After a rescue last weekend on Cody Peak, which can be accessed from a backcountry gate at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, another skier has been injured and evacuated by rescue teams in the backcountry near JHMR. According to Teton County Search and Rescue (TCSAR), the skier was hurt while attempting to ski a narrow southeast-facing couloir known as Mini Gothic in No Name Canyon just outside of the JHMR boundary. We’ve since received reports that the skier was a colleague of SnowBrains.

Mini Gothic is a very tight, southeast-facing couloir in No Name Canyon just outside the resort boundary. It’s narrow and a fall here is dangerous. Professional skier and Jackson Hole local Owen Leeper injured himself in a couloir right next to this one earlier this season where he bounced off its rock walls like a pinball and dislocated his shoulder. The full TCSAR incident report detailing yesterday’s rescue is attached below.

Mini Gothic Couloir

POV: Miles Clark in Mini Gothic Couloir, February 2020. | Photo: SnowBrains

TSCAR Incident Report

At noon on Wednesday, March 22, Teton County Search & Rescue was notified of an injured backcountry skier in No Name Canyon. The skier became injured while descending a steep, very narrow southeast-facing couloir known as Mini Gothic. The 37-year-old male had accessed the area after entering the backcountry through a gate at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The accident left the skier in significant pain and unable to ski or walk.

Getting to this location from the resort generally requires about 1.5-2 hours of hiking, ascending on touring equipment, and traversing on skis. The skier’s location, steep terrain, and inclement weather created challenging conditions for a rescue, and TCSAR volunteers considered numerous options for how to get the patient out safely.

After careful analysis of the weather, TCSAR decided to deploy a helicopter for a short-haul operation to extract the patient. The helicopter flew to the accident site and dropped off two TCSAR volunteers to care for the patient at roughly 9,600 feet. The helicopter lifted off and left the crew in the field before landing on Fish Creek Road to rig for short-haul; this step is mandatory to attach a rope to the bottom of the helicopter that is used to pick up the patient and rescuers for a short flight out of the backcountry.

TCSAR volunteers used climbing skins on skis to ascend a ridge out to No Name Canyon, a backcountry area south of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Photo: TCSAR

Meanwhile, Jackson Hole Ski Patrol dispatched two members to the site as TCSAR sent a ski team of eight volunteers to the aerial tram at JHMR as backup. As the ski team went up the tram, inclement weather grounded the helicopter on Fish Creek Road. At approximately 2:10 p.m., the ski team entered the backcountry from a top gate at the resort and began making their way toward the patient. The helicopter eventually was not able to fly due to icing, leaving the full response to the ski team.

Ski patrol arrived on the scene carrying a rescue sled and were tremendously helpful in coordinating the response. TCSAR’s ski team arrived at the patient soon after, at roughly 3 p.m. Ski patrol and TCSAR volunteers packaged the patient and together transported him down the mountain in the rescue sled.

The teams guided the sled down 2,800 vertical feet over roughly two miles and variable terrain to Fish Creek Road, where the patient was handed over to an ambulance with Jackson Hole Fire/EMS at 4 p.m. The various members of ski patrol and TCSAR closed the mission and headed back to their respective bases. It was a great partnership on a big rescue effort.

This was the third time in the last six weeks that TCSAR has come to the rescue of a skier in No Name Canyon. Today’s incident serves as a healthy reminder of the time, resources, and people hours in the field necessary to pull off a rescue when the helicopter can’t fly.

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