Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2002-11-11
Submitted By: Bob Comey, BTNFAC
Place: Jackson Hole area
State: WY
Country: USA
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.