April 1, 2011
A backcountry skier escaped injury in a large avalanche he triggered on the south aspect of Shadow Peak in the "Four Hour Couloir" in Grand Teton National Park Friday.
The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a 911 call at 2:20 p.m. Friday reporting a large slide originally thought to be on Albright Peak, but later corrected to be Shadow Peak. Park rangers mobilized for a search and rescue, but stood down at 3 p.m. when the reporting party called back to say everyone was safe and uninjured.
Rangers later spoke with skier Jimmy Chin, who said a "large, wet slab cracked around him with a two-foot crown." He said he rode the slide for at least 1,000 feet. Rangers will conduct a more thorough interview once Chin returns from the backcountry.
"Backcountry skiers need to stay informed of the latest snow conditions, especially with warm temperatures, a deep snowpack and a lack of freezing temperatures at night," said Park Ranger Ryan Schuster.
Skiers are advised to obtain current avalanche forecasts before entering the backcountry by visiting the Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche website at http://www.jhavalanche.org/, or calling the avalanche center at 307.733.2664. The website rated the avalanche danger Friday as “moderate” for high and mid-level elevations and “considerable” for low elevations during the afternoon. The advisory also stated, “At the high elevations, pockets of dense surface slabs with depths to two feet could be triggered in very steep wind loaded avalanche terrain. Avalanches are unlikely at the mid and low elevations this morning in the mostly stable snowpack. As warm temperatures and sunlight weaken the snowpack today wet slides will become possible this afternoon.”
Backcountry users are reminded that weather and other factors may prevent the ability of rescuers to effectively reach locations in the Teton Range to perform an evacuation. Anyone entering the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park should be prepared with appropriate emergency equipment such as avalanche beacons, extra clothing, water and high energy snacks, among other items.