An avalanche down a couloir on the popular 25 Short peak in Grand Teton National Park claimed the life of a Jackson, Wyo., man Monday.
It was the second regional avalanche death in the past two days, after an avalanche killed a Preston snowmobiler in the Bear Lake County area in the Sherman Peak area on Saturday.
The Teton Park fatality occurred in the Broken Thumb Couloir when three Jackson skiers left Taggart Lake Trailhead in the morning and skinned up to the upper part of the couloir. Matthew Brien, 33, entered the couloir above its choke points and above a rappel station when the avalanche occurred.
“The avalanche was up to 2 feet deep and fractured 50 to 100 feet above Brien, sweeping him over the rappel and downslope for approximately 1,000 feet,” Grand Teton National Park said in a news release.
The other two members of the party dialed 911 initiating a response from park rangers and Teton County, Wyo., Search and Rescue. Friends who were also skiing down the nearby canyon were contacted by radio.
“Both parties made their way to Brien and found him partially buried,” the park said. “They removed him from the debris and initiated CPR.”
The park said a helicopter was called in but could not be used for a short-haul operation because of gusty winds.
“Brien suffered significant trauma and was determined deceased at the scene,” the park said. “His body was flown to a frontcountry location and transferred to the Teton County coroner.”
The peak 25 Short is so named because it is 25 feet short of being 10,000 feet tall. The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center has issued a “considerable” avalanche danger rating for elevations above 7,500 feet for the Teton area. Recent snow and wind events have added to a dangerous backcountry snowpack. The center is advising no travel in avalanche terrain in upper elevations and that dangerous avalanche conditions exist in the mid elevations.
Allen Foss, 48, of Preston, died Saturday in an avalanche in the area between Grace and Montpelier. The incident was reported around 11 a.m. Saturday after two people who escaped the avalanche couldn’t find Foss, who had been with them when the slide struck, according to a Preston Citizen report. Foss’ body was found buried under a “large amount of snow.”
Since Feb. 1, 25 people have died in avalanches in Western states.