ski patroller hurt in slide

By Jim Stanford on January 6, 2010

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Word comes from a reliable source that a ski patroller has been seriously injured in an avalanche this morning at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

The slide reportedly occurred in Cheyenne Bowl. The patroller is said to have received CPR.

Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche forecasters rated the danger today as “high,” meaning mostly unstable snow exists on a variety of slopes and avalanches are likely.

All lifts on the upper mountain are on hold.

Update: Statement from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort:

At approximately 8:26am this morning routine early morning avalanche hazard reduction work by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) Ski Patrol triggered an avalanche of significant size down the northeast aspect of Cheyenne Bowl on the upper mountain.

This incident took place prior to the lifts being open to the public, but members of JHMR Ski Patrol were in the vicinity. One member of JHMR Ski Patrol was buried in the slide and an immediate search was conducted, the patroller dug out and transported to the Village Clinic.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort received 10 inches of snow in the previous 24 hours and over 30 inches in the previous week.

A news conference about this incident will be held today at 12.00 m.s.t in the Upstairs Conference Room, Olympic Sports Plaza, Teton Village.

Update 10:05 a.m.: The injured patroller is Mark “Big Wally” Wolling.

The resort issued this follow-up statement at 12:40 p.m.:

Members of JHMR Ski Patrol were conducting routine avalanche hazard reduction on the Cheyenne Bowl Route (Elevation Approx 9350’). An initial hand charge was deployed from Rendezvous Trail into Cheyenne Bowl with no result. Two patrollers ski cut the area below and deployed two more hand charges. These second charges caused the snow to fracture above where the patrolmen were located. One was able to self arrest using a tree and the other was caught in the slide.

The avalanche traveled over a cliff below to the bottom of Cheyenne Bowl. Mark Wolling (Patrolman since 1989) was buried in the slide. Following a hasty search by patrollers in the vicinity, Wolling was found and uncovered from approximately 6 feet of snow in about ten minutes.

JHMR Ski Patrol conducted CPR and administered AED (Automated External Defibrillator) while readying for transport to the Teton Village Clinic.  Wolling was transported to Teton Village Clinic in approximately six minutes, where further treatment was administered. At the time of transport to St Johns Medical Center, Jackson, Wolling was exhibiting vital signs.

“It has been an extremely tough morning for all our patrollers and staff. I am very grateful to everyone for their efforts. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark and his family right now. He is an amazing person who has been on the JHMR team since 1978, he’s definitely part of our family,” stated Jerry Blann, President, JHMR.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has established standards and protocols for minimizing the risk of avalanche that are based on the current weather and snowpack conditions. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort receives over 400 inches of snow annually and is dedicated to making the skiing and riding as safe as possible for our guests. Avalanche conditions change hour-by-hour and day-by-day. JHMR Ski Patrol continuously monitors elements of the weather and snowpack conditions 24 hours a day throughout the winter and uses this information to continually assess potential hazards.

At the time of this release Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is operating all lifts except for the Aerial Tram, Sublette and Thunder quad which will remain closed for the remainder of the day.

The next JHMR statement regarding this incident will be made at 4.00pm MST today.

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Posted under Ski Resorts, Weather

6 Comments so far

  1. Holly January 6, 2010 9:57 am

    Grand Teton Park Dispatch is sending thoughts and prayers to the patroller who was injured and all JHMR staff.

  2. Suzy January 6, 2010 10:22 am

    Best wishes to Mark and his family, as well as those brave ski patrollers up there! You are all so very amazing and brave to do what you do!

  3. D January 6, 2010 2:27 pm

    Best wishes man this sucks.

  4. erica January 6, 2010 2:38 pm

    Croakies Staff is praying for “Big Wally” & his family!

  5. Abby Walker January 6, 2010 7:46 pm

    I will be praying for him because we are grateful that he works hard for us and he is alive.

  6. Bob strong January 7, 2010 6:16 pm

    I met big Wally twelve years ago at a paragliding event in Jackson. A few years later while doing the haute route I bumped into him again our paths seem to cross every few years. Wally was always agreat stand up guy who was always willing to help anyone on need. My best wishes goes out to him and all who have the pleasure of crossing paths with this giant of a man.

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