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Huge avalanche kills 2 backcountry skiers in Tetons

A photo provided by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center snows the scope of the avalanche that killed two men who were backcountry skiing in Teton National Park. PHOTO COURTESY TETON NATIONAL PARK. AND BRIDGER-TETON AVALANCHE CENTER.

Total of 27 deaths for the season to-date

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reports that two men were killed by a massive backcountry avalanche on Ranger Peak in Grand Teton National Park.

According to the preliminary report, the avalanche was triggered while they were climbing the route.

The bodies of Steve Romeo and Chris Onufer were recovered Thursday after searchers located the victims by pinpointing signals emitted by their avalanche rescue beacons. Romeo and Onufer were well-known and experienced local mountaineers.

The two deaths brought the total number of avalanche fatalities to 27 for the winter across the country, including 12 skiers, nine snowmobilers and five snowboarders.Three of the deadly accidents have been within ski resort boundaries.

Dangerous avalanche conditions have been widespread across the western U.S. most of the seeason. The avalanche danger in the Tetons was rated as moderate and forecasters had warned of the possibility of triggered slides in new snow layers.

The Teton avalanche started at about 10,500 feet and broke 300 feet across and several feet deep, It ran about 3,000 vertical feet, covering about 1 mile. More details in this Jackson Hole News & Guide story.

Earlier this month, snowmobilers were caught and killed in separate accidents in Utah and California, and another skier was killed by a slide near Alpine Meadows, also in California.

There were 13 reported avalanche deaths in February, including three at the same location at Stevens Pass, Washington. More information at this Colorado Avalanche Information Center website.

 

 

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2 Responses

  1. Condolences to the families for their loss.

  2. It’s terribly sad these two lost everything, and I’m sorry for their families.

    But, still, thanks for posting this – especially the image/map. There are a lot of avalanches in the Cascade Range, too; I was a few miles from Snoqualmie Pass when WA lost a bunch of back-country skiers and snowboarders. I didn’t realize avalanches got so big in the lower 48. This is a much-needed reminder.

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