Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: Bob Comey, BTNFAC
Place: Jackson Hole area
Summary: 2 backcountry skiers caught and buried in seperate accidents
On Sunday 11/11/02 we had two close calls.
The first occured at about 1:30 PM in the Chief Joseph Bowl area of
Grand Targhee Resort. This incident occured before the resort was open
and before avalanche hazard reduction efforts had been conducted. A
backcountry skiers triggered a new soft slab on a NNW aspect at an
elevation of about 9,900 feet. Visiblity was extemely poor in snow with
strong winds. The slab was reported to be 30 yards across by 100 yards
in lenght with a crown which was two feet deep. The victim was
completely buried except for a ski tail. He had a transciever and his
companions had recue gear. His companions immediately located the ski
tail and dug him out from a depth of three feet while he lost
consciousness. Upon recovery the victim regained consciousness and had
no significant injuries.
The raymer snow study plot at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort had
received 14 inches of snow in the 48 hour period leading up to 5AM on
Sunday morning. From 5AM to noon this plot received another 10 inches
of snow. Strong southwest were recorded during this storm cycle which
ended Monday morning with 31 inches of total snow and 3.5 inches of
moisture. The bed surface of this slide was faceted October snow.
At about the same time another backcountry skier was buried in a similar
incident on Angle Mountian near Togwotee Pass. This skier also
triggered a new slab and was completely buried except for a ski tail
which protruded from the debris. His campanions also immediately
located this ski and uncovered the victim. The victim recovered with
some rescue breaths and had no significant injuries.