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Skier-Triggered Avalanche On Teton Pass Traps Three Cars

A skier-triggered slide off Teton Pass trapped three cars in avalanche debris this week. Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center photo.

Amidst a giant week for snow in the Tetons–with upwards of 40" of powder landing on a weak, faceted snowpack–the inevitable trot of backcountry travelers into the mountains has resulted in many close calls and several particularly dangerous situations. This Wednesday, a backcountry traveler likely trying to exit the bottom of the Twin Slides route down the steep road cut that hang over Highway 22 triggered an avalanche on the road cut that swept across the westbound lane of traffic, trapping three vehicles in the avalanche debris and reducing traffic to one lane. Highway patrol had to assist to get the vehicles freed.

"The road-cut at Twin Slide is one of the most critical spots along the highway when there is a ton of new snow. A slide there is guaranteed to hit the highway," said Linda Merigliano, the Recreation, Wilderness and Trails Program Manager for the Bridger-Teton National Forest. "More incidents like this could result in a much worse outcome for motorists or create pressure to close the Twin Slides run to skiing and boarding, similar to the Mt. Rogers area in Canada... this incident is a graphic reminder that access to skiing on Mt Glory is dependent on skiers/boarders exercising some responsibility and consideration for other people."

Many natural and human-triggered avalanches are now visible as a high pressure system opens up the visibility following a huge flow of snow to the Tetons. Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center photo.

The day following, on Christmas Eve, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide two snowmobilers in a more remote part of Teton Pass remotely triggered an avalanche as they rested 300 yards from the base of Horseshoe Bowl, which caused the entire bowl to rip and partially bury both riders, one of whom suffered a broken femur. Having not even heard the avalanche coming, neither rider had the chance to pull the trigger on their avalanche airbags, but were fortunate to be left in a position where they could self-rescue, although it took the party several hours to do so, after which point Anna Pantone, who had suffered the broken femur, was beginning to go hypothermic.

If you are planning on recreating in the Tetons this holiday break, please keep in mind the gorgeous new snow–almost 100" this December alone–sits on a bed layer of weak, faceted snow that has been releasing slab avalanches of between three and five feet in depth with serious consequences. Please check in at to check conditions daily.

About The Author

stash member Ryan Dunfee

Former Managing Editor at Teton Gravity Research, current Senior Contributor, current professional hippy at the Sierra Club, and avid weekend recreationalist.