News Release Date: February 5, 2024
Contact: Valerie Gohlke, 307-739-3393
Contact: C.J. Adams, 307-739-3431
Contact: Matt Hansen, 970-846-7766
MOOSE, Wyo. — On Sunday afternoon, February 4, Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) rangers requested helicopter assistance from Teton County Search & Rescue (TCSAR) to respond to an injured skier on Prospectors Mountain inside the park. The skier, a 29-year-old local woman, along with four men were near the top of the Banana Couloir at 10,800 feet when they triggered and were caught by an avalanche. Three in the group were able to self-arrest, while one of the men was carried 500 feet and the woman was carried by the snow slide approximately 1,500 vertical feet. Neither skier was fully buried, however, the woman sustained serious injuries.
TCSAR prepared the helicopter with three rescue volunteers and a pilot. The crew flew up into the Banana, a prominent couloir on the east face of Prospectors Mountain. The volunteers were able to short-haul the injured skier off the mountain and fly her to a waiting National Park Service ambulance at Windy Point Turnout. The rest of the party were able to ski out on their own.
Short-haul is a rescue method where a patient and rescuer are secured to a fixed rope that is connected to the belly of the helicopter for a short flight out of the backcountry. It is often used in steep terrain where landing the helicopter is not an option.
With new snow falling on the Tetons, backcountry users are being reminded to read the daily avalanche forecast at bridgertetonavalanchecenter.org. Grand Teton and TCSAR are appreciative of the collaborative effort to bring this incident to a close.