[VIDEO] Lucky Escape for Owen Leeper After Getting Caught in Avalanche in Jackson Hole, WY, Backcountry

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Friend of SnowBrains Owen Leeper was ‘feeling very lucky’ after triggering and being carried in an avalanche in the Jackson Hole, WY, backcountry earlier this week.

The slide happened in a narrow chute that Owen had skied a couple of times previously (not the same day.) Owen escaped with ‘just’ a painful dislocated shoulder. Considering the tightness of the chute, and the size of the slide, he’s extremely lucky he didn’t catch any other part of his body on the rocks and/or end up buried.

The injury was too painful to walk out of the backcountry, and Teton County SAR was called to assist.

Sending you chocolate chip cookies and wishing you a speedy recovery, buddy!

Owen’s full account of the scary incident is below:

The avalanche forecast was moderate, with sunny skies, temps were in the high 20’s at upper elevation. I scoped the chute a couple days ago. I wasn’t too worried about an avalanche, because we had several days of settling since the last storm and the wind was keeping the snow cool so wet slides weren’t on my mind either. I was more worried about it being too rocky in the choke, which is why I said here it goes, when dropping in.

I have actually skied into this chute twice, and booted back out both times because it was too rocky. I knew I had to take it slow, to see the choke before being able to ski through it. On the third turn it all cracked, I tried digging my hands in to stop me from sliding, but the snow grabbed my skis, I tried to reach for my airbag, but my shoulder was buried in the snow and I couldn’t get to it before bracing for impact on the rocks.

Once I hit the first rock I knew I had to keep my feet under me, for the rock in the middle was about to hit, my skis launched me into the wall, I was able to get my hands up and catch myself before hitting my face, likely popping my shoulder out at that time. I tried hard to keep my feet below me, knowing I had another rock band to clear. Miraculously I bounced over the last section of rocks into the snow.

I came to a stop and all the snow flushed down further, I knew right away my shoulder was out, but was amazed nothing else hurt. I radioed up to @lostlawyer for help, and he skied around to me.

We tried to get my shoulder back in, so I could ski down, but had no luck, so we called for rescue and @tetoncountysar flew me out. It took 3 people to finally get my shoulder back in at the emergency room.

Every day in the mountains is risky, there isn’t one day of the season where the avalanche danger is “none.” Every backcountry skier understands the risks. The important thing is to minimize risks where possible, but you can’t remove all risk while pursuing extreme skiing. I feel very lucky I made it out with minor injuries. I will definitely think about this crash every time I’m out. #skiing #avalanche #Jacksonhole #backcountryskiing


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A post shared by Owen Leeper (@o_leeps)

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