photos of slide that killed Jamie Pierre

By Jim Stanford on November 15, 2011

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The slide occurred in the South Chute area of Snowbird's Gad Valley. Click to enlarge.

The Utah Avalanche Center has released photos and a thorough report from the slide that killed pro skier Jamie Pierre on Sunday.

Pierre and a friend were riding in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon at the Alta and Snowbird resorts, which were closed at the time and had not yet done any avalanche control. They triggered one large avalanche that did not catch them, then proceeded to the South Chute area of Gad Valley, where another slide caught Pierre and carried him about 800 feet over cliffs.

The avalanche center’s report reads like a textbook on early-season instability, much like the assessment Jackson Hole forecaster Bob Comey gave Saturday regarding the Teton snowpack. The Utah center had been warning of the danger on north-facing slopes because of weak layers of snow that fell in October.

“This incident is difficult for many reasons,” the report states. “We heard of over 10 human triggered avalanches on the day of the fatality, primarily in the upper elevation terrain in the unopened Alta ski area.”

Pierre and his partner first triggered this avalanche on their way up.

Pierre, who was snowboarding at the time, appeared in numerous ski movies and magazine spreads. A born-again Christian, he gained notoriety in 2006 for a 245-foot jump over a cliff at Grand Targhee, then a world record, a stunt he did to profess his faith in Christ, he said. He landed on his head and had to be rescued. Amid snickers in Jackson, the leap became known as the Jesus Jump.

Utah forecasters seemed frustrated with backcountry skiers accessing the resorts: “It was reported that other parties at Alta continued to ski and knock down avalanches into Greeley Bowl while the rescue was in progress. Creating another incident during this situation is unacceptable.”

To read the full report, click here.

Pierre’s death triggered introspection about the cavalier attitude many expert skiers and riders have toward avalanches. Blogger RandoSteve wrote on TetonAT:

… we will all be lucky to be alive in the next 5 years if our attitudes towards backcountry skiing and risk don’t change. time and time again, we escape injury and even death by mere seconds or inches, which makes us feel invincible. we watch movies of dudes slaying huge lines, hucking insane airs and surviving the most epic wrecks and avalanches, that we become numb to the risk and hazard.

(Photos by Utah Avalanche Center)


Posted under Deaths, Environment, Ski Resorts, Sports

12 Comments so far

  1. Piper November 15, 2011 1:33 pm

    Much respect. RIP

  2. Sue November 15, 2011 5:00 pm

    He was stupid. Sorry if that sounds harsh. It is. A little too wacko for his own good.

    “While neither had any rescue gear or formal avalanche training”

    Was he wearing a helmet?

    Play like an idiot and it will catch up to you.

  3. jd November 17, 2011 8:04 am

    clueless, read the report. I hate to say it but the next death might be here. with this storm coming the parking lot on the pass is going to be packed. going to avy night at snow king just is not enough to keep you from dying. its time we gave some thought to the folks that come out to save our asses. the fact that people were sking above the rescuers in utah makes me sick. do you want the death of someone on your head cause you HAVE to ski?

  4. js November 17, 2011 8:31 am

    The American Avalanche Institute posted a video on Facebook yesterday showing how sketchy the north-facing snowpack is:
    The clip was shot on Teton Pass, in the aptly named Avalanche Bowl.

  5. D November 17, 2011 9:11 am


    That’s probably something you could have kept to yourself. I have no dog in the fight but, dancing on someone’s grave does nothing to elevate the conversation. I doubt you have any room to question his “experience”. They made a big mistake and paid for it. I am sure you never have?

  6. diane November 18, 2011 2:00 pm

    He died doing what he loved.

  7. jd November 19, 2011 12:10 pm

    sorry diane but that’s bullshit. he took a stupid risk and paid the price. along the way put other peoples lives at risk who came to help. those people have kids and families. we have a reponsibilty to those folks NOT to be reckless because they will come to the rescue no matter how foolish these two were. selfish

  8. H November 25, 2011 9:27 pm

    While many of you have your opinions and write about them on here, Jamie Pierre was loved by many, as a friend. He was my friend.
    Have some respect for the dead.

  9. jd November 27, 2011 10:44 am

    I have no doubt Jamie was a good person and I am sorry for what happened. I would make the same comments, however, if he was my best friend. What he did was wrong and the riding community needs to hear it.
    respect the living.

  10. Dave June 16, 2014 2:30 pm

    this is old. but @jd….the article clearly states that the people skiing after the slide were at a DIFFERENT RESORT. Over a mile away. Greely bowl is at Alta, and south chute is at snowbird. to just assume everyone in Utah is an idiot when it comes to avalanche safety is arrogant. People ski that chute before the mountain opens every year, and the conditions that day were unfavorable. you can have JH

  11. Mike V June 24, 2014 1:38 pm

    Hey Dave ^^^

    JH sucks! Tell all your friends!

  12. Dave July 9, 2014 9:12 am

    Is that why every D Bag from Jackson comes down in April to ride the lifts and complain until July?

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