Snowboarder triggers avalanche that sweeps away skier in Grand Teton, rangers say

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Teton County Search and Rescue

A skier was swept down the mountain side in Grand Teton National Park after a snowboarder above him triggered an avalanche, park rangers said.

The skier was with another person on Silver Couloir on Saturday, Jan. 22, when a small avalanche swept him down the steep gully, the National Park Service said. He hurt his ankle during the fall.

“Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received the call about the injured skier via inReach and follow-up reports via cell phones from people who skied to areas with coverage,” park officials said in a Jan. 24 news release. “The Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter with park rangers onboard responded to the injured skier.”

The skier scooted to a landing zone on his own. Rangers then loaded him onto the helicopter and flew him to a different landing zone where a friend was waiting to pick him up.

“This incident serves as a good reminder of how quickly a small avalanche can become hazardous in steep terrain,” park rangers said. “This was an unfortunate event that could have had a worse outcome.”

An avalanche can happen quickly and catch people by surprise. Avalanches can move at speeds between 60 mph and 80 mph and typically happen on slopes of 30-45 degrees, according to officials.

They can be triggered by a change in the weather or by people recreating on a slope, officials said.

Skiers, snowmobilers and hikers can set off an avalanche when a layer of snow collapses and starts to slide down the slope

In the U.S., avalanches are most common from December to April, but they can happen at any time if the conditions are right, National Geographic reported.

At least eight people have died in avalanches this season in the U.S. as of Jan. 25, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Two 17-year-old boys were killed in an avalanche on an Idaho mountain in December. In Colorado earlier in January, two snowshoers and their dog were found dead after they were buried in avalanche debris.

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