While backcountry skiing and snowboarding continues to grow in popularity, a harrowing scenario unfolded over the past few days in the Tetons with 10 separate human-triggered avalanches reported since Friday.
As reported by the Jackson Hole News and Guide, since Friday the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center has received reports of seven avalanches in the area caused by skiers, two caused by snowmobilers and one caused by snowboarders.
One of those avalanches, a snow slide on Henderson Mountain near Cooke City, Montana, proved fatal for the skier who triggered it.
Bob Comey, an avalanche forecaster for the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (which saw three skier-triggered slides in the past five days) told the newspaper the high number of avalanches just underscores the underlying danger present anytime somebody ventures into the backcountry.
“The main thing is that conditions change, so continually check in,” Comey warned anyone considering going out-of-bounds. “Make an observation if you're out there. Back off a little bit and play it conservative for a while.”
Comey also noted that while there was one fatality from the slides, the situation could have been much more dire as there were “a lot of close calls.”
One of those close calls included a group of three skiers who were caught in an avalanche near Togwotee Pass in Wyoming. Two of the skiers managed to dig themselves out of the slide before locating and excavating their third partner, who was buried up to his neck.
The news of the heavy avalanche activity in the Tetons comes following the death of a skier at the Mount Rose Ski Tahoe resort in Nevada, who died in an avalanche that officials say he may have triggered by ignoring warning signs and skiing on a closed portion of the mountain.