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Mountain News: In-bounds slide claims victim

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JACKSON, Wyo. – For the second time this season, an in-bounds skier has been killed at a ski area. The first, in mid-December, occurred at Utah’s Snowbird ski area. Then, two days after Christmas, a 31-year-old skier died after being buried under eight feet of snow at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Avalanches on ski trails within ski areas are relatively rare, and fatalities resulting from them are even rarer.

At Jackson Hole, the slope where the avalanche occurred had just been opened a few hours prior. However, it had been skied quite a bit, resort spokeswoman Anna Olson told the Jackson Hole News & Guide , and other “normal precautions” had been taken. Those precautions usually include the use of explosives to trigger avalanches.

The skier had been wearing a transceiver, and so ski patrollers were able to pinpoint the location of his body within six minutes, and then recover the body another four minutes later. Patrollers administered cardio pulmonary resuscitation and then a defibrillation device, but without success.

The slab avalanche broke a crown six to eight feet deep, patrollers said. Up to 30 inches of snow had fallen on the mountain, with a total depth of snow of 138 inches at mid-mountain.

On the same day, at about the same time, two snowmobilers were killed by an avalanche in the Rabbit Ears Range west of Grand Lake, Colo. One snowmobiler who was with them was partially buried and was able to dig himself out. When rescue personnel arrived, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was being performed on one of the victims.

It took rescuers an hour and 45 minutes to find and dig out the second snowmobiler. Both victims, one aged 38 and the other 19, were declared dead at the scene.

“We hate it when this kind of thing happens,” search leader Mark Foley told the Sky-Hi Daily News , “but they were in a bad place at a bad time, and they had no beacons (transceivers) on. If they had beacons on, it’s possible they could have been saved.”

 

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