Grand Teton National Park: Skier Killed in Avalanche

by Kayla Zadel
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An avalanche in Grand Teton National Park swept up a Wyoming skier, killing him.

According to the National Park Service, Matthew Brien of Jackson, Wyoming was leading a group in the upper part of the Broken Thumb Couloir when the snow slide took place. The avalanche was up to two feet deep and fractured 50-100 feet above the 33-year-old skier. The avalanche reportedly swept him over the rappel and down the slope for around 1,000 feet.

People in Brien’s ski party called 911. Then they called other friends down the canyon via an FRS radio. They told them about the avalanche. Both groups made their way to Brien and found him partially buried.

“They removed him from the debris and initiated CPR,” park officials said.

Additionally, emergency crews reacted, sending a helicopter to the scene. Reports say that Brien suffered “significant trauma” and was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was then airlifted to the country coroner. The other members of the parties skied out.

Furthermore, the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center issued an imminent avalanche danger. The National Park Service reports that recent snowfall and winds have created dangerous backcountry conditions.

“Very cautious route-finding and expert snowpack evaluation skills are a requirement for safe travel in avalanche terrain,” the report states.

The National Park Service recommends always checking the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center website before heading into the backcountry.

America Records Deadliest Avalanche Season in a Century

Over the course of one week, avalanches have killed more people than over a century, marking a deadly period for winter mountain goers across the country. Those seven days stretch across the first week in February.

At least 15 people died within one week from avalanches. What’s more, the most dangerous time to be in the mountains dates back to 1910.

There have been deaths from several different states including Colorado, Montana, Utah, New Hampshire, California, and Alaska.

National avalanche specialist Simon Trautman believes that weak snowpacks are causing many of these avalanches.

“The accidents are geographically wide-ranging and indicative of a widespread weak snowpack across the US,” he said. “Much of the western US saw very little early season snow and recent snowstorms are overloading this older, weaker snow and leading to elevated avalanche danger.”

Outsider.com