Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, January 22, about an injured skier involved in an avalanche in the Sliver Couloir on Nez Perce in Grand Teton National Park, WY. Park rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue jointly responded.
Two skiers were ascending the Sliver Couloir on Saturday when a snowboarder above them triggered a small avalanche. The slide caused one of the skiers to be washed down the couloir. During the fall the skier sustained an ankle injury.
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received the call about the injured skier via inReach and follow-up reports via cell phones from people who skied to areas with coverage. The Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter with park rangers onboard responded to the injured skier, who had been able to self-rescue by scooting to a landing zone in Shadow Peak Cirque. Rangers were able to load the patient into the helicopter and then fly him to a landing zone at Windy Point Turnout along Teton Park Road. A friend of the injured skier picked him up at the landing zone.
This incident serves as a good reminder of how quickly a small avalanche can become hazardous in steep terrain. This was an unfortunate event that could have had a worse outcome. It is important to be aware of other backcountry users in the area and to consider their presence in your decision-making to maximize safety for everyone.
Those venturing into the mountains should use careful snowpack assessment and good terrain choices. Before heading into the backcountry, always check Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center for current conditions at jhavalanche.org.