It was a wild weekend at Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as five skiers were buried in an inbounds slide set off in the “Expert Chutes” off the Thunder Lift which was immediately shut down following the avalanche. Reports say it was about two feet deep and 150 feet wide.
Apparently, there were some 15-20 people on the slope below the slide, including children from a local ski club. Five people were buried to varying degrees, according to the resort. One woman was almost completely underneath the snow. When ski patrol arrived on the scene, good Samaritans were already working to extricate fellow skiers and riders and ski patrol secured the area and made a sweep for more victims (which there were none).
A 24-year-old skier quoted by the Jackson Hole News and Guide who asked to remain anonymous was skiing off the lift on a run called Amphitheater when he saw the slope release above several skiers. “Right as they dropped in a pretty moderately sized shelf slid and kind of followed them down the mountain,” the skier said. “I think six of the seven kids skied it out. One of the kids was buried almost completely, and I think he was the first one to be uncovered. As I saw it happen, I knew I needed to keep my eyes out and start scanning for anybody who had been buried.”
According to the report, he saw a pair of mittens and poles in the debris and began digging. The woman “was completely buried,” he said. “Her face was covered. She was choking on snow. She had snow in her mouth.”
“Once on scene, Patrol immediately responded to the individuals caught in the slide, then Ski Patrol made a hasty search of the area with two dogs, a Recco device and beacons,” read a statement from JHMR. “A larger scale search and probing of the area to ensure no other guests were caught in the debris followed. At approximately 11:20 a.m. JH Ski Patrol concluded the search of the area, while it remained closed to guests. The parties involved in the incident did not experience any significant injuries.”
The resort also said it was increasing it’s “avalanche reduction efforts” and that the lift would remain closed for the day.