Avalanche triggered on Jackson Hole run buries 5 people; no serious injuries
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — An avalanche triggered by skiers at a Wyoming ski resort buried five people to varying degrees on Saturday, but the victims were quickly rescued, and no serious injuries were reported, a spokeswoman said.
The avalanche occurred just before 10 a.m. at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, on a run known as Expert Chutes. About 15 to 20 people including an unknown number of children belonging to a local ski club were on the slope when the 150-foot-wide (45-meter) avalanche released, resort spokeswoman Anna Cole said.
By the time a ski patroller arrived minutes later, other skiers already were helping to extricate those who were buried. Among the victims was a woman almost completely beneath the snow, with only her head and a hand exposed, Cole said.
The Jackson Hole News and Guide quoted a witness who said the woman was choking on snow when she was pulled out. Cole said children from the ski club also were among those who were partially buried.
Teams of searchers using beacons and dogs combed the area to make sure no one else was trapped.
It was Jackson Hole’s first inbound avalanche involving the general public since a Wyoming man was killed in a 2008 slide at the resort, Cole said.
Workers at the resort routinely set off explosive blasts at the tops of avalanche-prone slopes to trigger slides before opening those runs to skiers.
Cole said the area where Saturday’s slide occurred was blasted earlier in the morning, setting off several smaller slides.
The resort is working with the Bridger Teton Avalanche Center to investigate the circumstances of Saturday’s avalanche.
Recent winter storms have left much of the Rocky Mountains exposed to increased avalanche danger, with safety advisories issued Saturday for portions of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.
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International visitors have traditionally accounted for 10 to 20 percent of Aspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits in recent past seasons. Travel fears and restrictions tied to the coronavirus are expected to wipe out most of that market for 2020-21.