Incident Reports

January, 2008
Unskiabowl Rescue

  Teton County SAR was paged out twice today for two avalanches. The first page was mid-afternoon for some skiers possibly caught in a large avalanche near Pyramid Peak near the Wilson Faces (west of Jackson and Wilson, WY). After parking lot surveys and helicopter sweeps with a transceiver and no additional ski tracks found, it was assumed that no one was trapped.  

Around 6 pm TCSAR received another callout for a known victim of an avalanche in Unskiabowl, 2 bowls north of Glory Bowl off of the north side of Teton pass. At around 3:30 pm, the patient was peering over the edge and unknowingly was on a cornice that broke away carrying him down over 1,300 ft of cliff bands and caused a 300 ft avalanche to release with an 8 foot crown. He was temporarily buried, but was able to uncover his upper body before his companions arrived.  He was initially unable to move his right leg and hip due to pain. His friends moved him to a small snowcave they dug in the avalanche snowpack once night came as he became too cold to stay, despite the severe pain involved with any movement. Their party of 4 sent one skier out for help who contacted TCSAR.  Due to the significant avalanche risk and now that night had fallen, a small team of 5 SAR members set out with medical gear and warming supplies to help care for the victim and others in his party through the night. TCSAR reached the patient around midnight after negotiating through the avalanche terrain.  The small team, with limited gear they were able to bring with them, transported the patient to a safe location remote from the toe of the avalanche.  An improvised shelter and fire were used to keep the team and patients warm through the night. A helicopter landing zone was made to facilitate early extrication of the patient at first light.  

The patient’s injuries included a pelvic fracture and ruptured spleen. He was cared for through the night with morphine pain injections and remained stable until transport out.