Four skiers and snowboarders who ducked under the out-of-bounds rope at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and entered an area under an emergency closure have been cited after two became lost and needed rescue.
Grand Teton National Park announced Wednesday that Andrew Richards, age 24, and Ruth Schwietert, 28, both of Jackson, Wyo., Natalie Burns, 32, of Breckenridge, Colo., and Joseph Higgins, 25, of Portsmouth, N.H., each received two citations requiring a mandatory court appearance.
The citations are for violating an emergency boundary closure and disorderly conduct with creation of a hazardous condition. Each citation carries a maximum penalty of up to $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
On Feb. 28, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort called the Teton Interagency Dispatch to report that two skiers were lost in Granite Canyon. The canyon, just north of the resort, is inside Grand Teton National Park. At the time, the area was under an emergency closure due to extreme, hazardous avalanche conditions.
As they skied into the canyon, two members of the party became lost and two were able to ski back to the resort. The lost skiers contacted a friend by cellphone. The friend contacted the ski patrol who contacted park dispatch.
“A Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter conducted an aerial reconnaissance, using location information communicated by the lost individuals,” a park news release said. “Due to sunset and diminished light, it was challenging to confirm the location.”
At 8:30 p.m. — after dark — three park rangers began skiing into Granite Canyon from the resort following GPS coordinates provided by the lost skiers.
“The area is in a high avalanche and hazard area, including steep terrain, numerous trees and cliffs,” the park said. “The rangers utilized safety practices that involved ropes and belay systems as they moved down the canyon.”
The pair were located in the Spock Chutes area about 11 p.m. and the entire group climbed back up the mountain to the ski area boundaries. They arrived unharmed at the base of the resort at 2:45 a.m.