3 Snowmobilers killed in avalanche near Afton
Snowmobilers and skiers trigger avalanches
by Pinedale Online!
January 13, 2008
Three snowmobilers were killed Saturday after being buried by a large avalanche in Cottonwood Creek drainage of the Salt River Range southeast of Afton. Their names have not yet been released.
Also on Saturday, two backcountry skiers triggered a slab avalanche while ascending a southwest-facing slope on Cache Peak, east of the town of Jackson, at an estimated elevation of 9,000 feet in the Teton area. One skier was carried through trees and injured.
The Bridger-Teton National Forest maintains the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center in Jackson. They post area specific avalanche advisories at 7 AM daily during the winter. They also post an advisory for Western Wyoming at 5 PM daily from early November to late April. They receive funding from the U.S. Forest Service National Avalanche Center, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and other sponsors and contributors. Anyone interested in the reports can sign up to receive them daily by e-mail by signing up for them on their website, www.jhavalanche.org.
We also want to remind people of the upcoming Avalanche Awareness classes that will be held this week in Big Piney and Pinedale for snowmobilers and backcountry users. There will be a class at the Big Piney Library on Tuesday, January 15 starting at 6:00 PM. There will be a short classroom talk, then they will go outside to the football field for transceiver training. Bring your transceivers, if you have one. If not, they will have plenty on hand. Dress warm!
Another class will be held on Tuesday, January 22 at the Search and Rescue Building at 138 N Bridger Ave in Pinedale, at 6:00 PM. There will be a short classroom talk, after which participants will go outside to the football field for transceiver training. Bring your transceivers if you have one. If not, they will have plenty on hand.
The classes are sponsored by Tip Top Search & Rescue. For more information call 307-367-2849 or 307-749-1444.
AVALANCHE HAZARD FORECAST – SUNDAY
Teton Area: Dangerous unstable slabs exist on a variety of aspects. At the mid and upper elevations soft slabs one to four feet in depth are likely to be easily triggered on steep wind loaded slopes. Deeper hard slabs could also be triggered. At the lower elevations hard and soft slabs up to three feet in depth could be human triggered in the starting zones of steep active avalanche paths. The potential to trigger these slabs will likely increase as the day progresses and temperatures warm. Good terrain evaluation, route finding skills and excellent decision making skills are essential for safe travel in avalanche terrain today.
Continental Divide Trails/Togwotee Pass: The General Avalanche Hazard is CONSIDERABLE. Dangerous unstable slabs exist. Deep hard and soft slabs lie upon a weak base of faceted snow and are likely to be easily triggered by humans who venture into avalanche terrain. The potential to trigger these dangerous slides will increase as the day warms.
Southwest Trails/Grey's River Area: The general avalanche hazard is CONSIDERABLE. Dangerous unstable slabs exist. Deep hard and soft slabs lie upon a weak base of faceted snow and are likely to be easily triggered by backcountry users who venture into steep avalanche terrain. The potential to trigger these dangerous slides will increase today as temperatures rise.
Definitions of Avalanche hazard ratings:
Extreme: Wide spread areas of unstable snow exist and avalanches are certain on some slopes. Backcountry travel should be avoided.
High: Mostly unstable snow exists on a variety of aspects and slope angles.
Natural avalanches are likely. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.
Considerable: Dangerous unstable slabs exist on steep terrain on certain aspects.
Human triggered avalanches probable. Natural avalanches possible.
Moderate: Areas of unstable snow exist. Human triggered avalanches are possible.
Larger triggers may be necessary as the snowpack becomes more stable. Use caution.
Low: Mostly stable snow exists. Avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets.