By Jim Stanford on January 28, 2013
No sooner had skiers and riders relearned the joy of fresh powder yesterday than two people died in separate avalanches around Jackson.
Grand Teton National Park has identified the man killed in a slide in the northern part of the range as Nick Gillespie, a seasonal worker.
Gillespie was skiing with three companions on Survey Peak when the slide occurred, said spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs.
Earlier today authorities identified another victim from an avalanche in Hoback Canyon as Liza Benson, 28.
Gillespie, 30, worked on the park’s trail crew for several years, Skaggs said. He and his party skied into the Berry Creek area on the west shore of Jackson Lake on Thursday and had spent several days in the backcountry.
The group was on its second lap on the slope when the slide occurred, Skaggs said. A member of the party noticed avalanche debris and Gillespie missing, she said. After a beacon search, the skiers found him with his head and shoulders above the snow. They began CPR but were unable to revive him, she said.
“As a park, we’re reeling,” Skaggs said.
The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center issued a special bulletin following the deaths, saying both skiers were killed by trauma from small slides.
Another party of four backcountry riders who did not return yesterday from Teton Pass was found this morning in the Mosquito Creek area, a sheriff’s deputy said. A helicopter retrieved the group after they spent the night out.
The avalanches come as a storm dumped a foot of snow or more following a prolonged dry spell that created good sliding surfaces: sun and wind crusts on upper slopes and weak, faceted crystals on shaded and lower slopes. Forecasters had warned of increased danger.
(Photo by Tom Turiano)