avalanche claims Jarad Spackman

Jarad Spackman in Alaska in 2010.

An avalanche in Grand Teton National Park has claimed the life of snowboard mountaineer Jarad Spackman.

Spackman, a well-known Teton County resident and realtor, was caught while ascending the Apocalypse Couloir near the mouth of Death Canyon. He was carried approximately 1,000 feet, and his partner was unable to revive him, according to a park release. He was 40 years old.

The full press release follows after the jump.

Spackman was an experienced mountaineer who notched dozens of difficult descents throughout the Teton Range in the last 10 to 15 years. Only two weeks ago he explored a new route in the same area of Death Canyon with his brother, Brandon, and writer Christian Beckwith, who chronicled the experience.

This horrific news leaves many of us numb right now. My deepest condolences go out to Jarad’s family and friends.

From Grand Teton National Park:

Local Backcountry Skier Killed by Avalanche in Teton Range

MOOSE, WY — A local backcountry skier died today during an avalanche in the Teton Range at Grand Teton National Park. Jarad Spackman, age 40, of Jackson, was involved in the avalanche that took his life while he was ascending Apocalypse Couloir near the mouth of Death Canyon.

Spackman and a companion were ascending Apocalypse Couloir about 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 1 to access an adjacent narrow and steep chute on the flank of Prospectors Mountain, which they intended to ski. Approximately 200 feet below the fork of the couloir, Spackman and his partner were impacted by an avalanche that originated further up the slope. Spackman was caught in the slide and it carried him approximately 1000 feet. Spackman’s partner immediately began a search that ultimately led to him to where Spackman lay face down and only partially buried. The skiing partner began CPR to revive his friend and about 15 minutes later used a cell phone to make an emergency call and alert Grand Teton National Park rangers of the situation.

Rangers immediately organized a rescue mission and enlisted the assistance of the Teton County Search and Rescue contract helicopter and members of the county rescue team. A landing zone was established near Sawmill Ponds on the Moose-Wilson Road from where the rescue mission was conducted. Four rangers were flown to the backcountry location, where they landed at 1:15 p.m. near the base of Apocalypse Couloir. In advance of their arrival, Spackman’s partner was able to move his friend to that same location and wait for the helicopter and rescuers.

Spackman’s body was flown from the mountains at 2:30 p.m. and turned over to the Teton County coroner’s office. Spackman’s partner and the rescuers then skied out of the backcountry together, arriving at park headquarters around 4:00 p.m.

This marks the second avalanche fatality in Grand Teton National Park this year. An avalanche on Survey Peak in the northern Teton Range took the life of a skier on January 27.

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reported the avalanche danger as moderate for the morning hours of March 1. A general advisory also stated, “Pockets of wind slab up to 20 inches in depth exist and could be triggered by the weight of a single person in steep avalanche starting zones and cliff areas with fresh deposits of wind drifted snow.” It’s important to note that the avalanche forecast center does not provide reports for extreme terrain.

(Photo by Ed Bushnell)


Posted under Deaths, Environment, Sports

21 Comments so far

  1. Jamie Mackay March 1, 2013 8:44 pm

    Jarad was a man that loved life, family and the mountains. He will be missed in many ways I would call him one of the best in the west!! He was a good friend that we will all miss.

  2. Jennifer March 1, 2013 10:11 pm

    This news has left us numb. My heart goes out to his wife, his dear family who are all so very close. Jarad was a thoughtful, caring, good friend who will be missed by me and so many.

  3. tony casiglio March 1, 2013 10:36 pm

    I will miss Jarad forever. He really lived life to its fullest, always with a positive attitude. Although sometimes I wasn’t so happy about the terrain he took me through (usually something I looked at from afar and said “Hell no, I’m not doing that”), afterwards I really enjoyed the experiences that I would never of had without him. Those memories and experiences are things that I cherish and will take with me forever. Always full of energy, kind words, a good friend, and a smile on his face. I will always remember him that way. Thanks for the good times, J!

  4. Brad March 1, 2013 10:40 pm

    A great guy, indeed. RIP

  5. Matt Workman March 1, 2013 10:45 pm

    I had just met Jarad this morning in the Death Canyon Parking lot, and later down the track as we met up with the two heading towards Apoc. We toured from the bathroom to the Phelps lake overlook together, and shot the shit about splitboards and hardboots. We parted ways at the overlook, as we were heading for another line. Safety was discussed numerous times within our groups due to the warm temps ahead. My partner and I pulled the plug immediately on our destination after a small wet slide was seen propagating down the base of our coulior, the Banana. At exactly 10:30am, just before we reached the base of the chute, a VERY ominous layer of thick, sub-tropical hot fog surrounded my partner and I. It was hard to see 10ft in front of you. We have all been in fog, but the warmth associated with this fog was unlike anything I have ever witnessed in 7 years of riding the Teton range. It was very unnerving for both my partner and I, and the HEAT of the fog was something that I will never forget. We had no idea anything was wrong until the helicopter was seen heading into Death canyon, right as we had made it to Phelps Lake. Needless to say, I am very shook up about this incident.

    +++vibes to Christian, and to all of Jarad’s family and friends.

  6. Rick Hunt March 2, 2013 7:27 am

    The circle of life never stops spinning. RIP Jarad. Blessings and healing energy to family and friends.

  7. ken jern March 2, 2013 11:19 am

    I was shocked to see the paper today! I am so sorry for the Spackman family and friends. Jarad was an inspiration, a true mountain person. He will be greatly missed by everyone. It is just so sad.

  8. Chuck March 2, 2013 2:48 pm

    “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
    Helen Keller

    Sad to hear the news but happy to know he took full advantage of God’s gifts.

  9. Jeannine S Mackay March 2, 2013 7:43 pm

    I am Jarad’s Aunt Jeannine. Jarad’s death came as quite a shock to me today. I loved all of your comments above. When Jarad was little he and my daughter (Jamie) his cousin were the best of friends. They went Tricking O Treating for the very first time together. Jamie and Jarad loved to be together at Grandma Spackman’s house.

    He was a very special nephew and young man. I like Chuck’s remark “happy to know he took full advantage of God’s gifts.” I am glad that he had so many good friends!!!

    By the way I always thought that Jarad’s name was spelled Jared. Anyway that is how his Aunt Jeannine spelled it.

  10. andy bates March 3, 2013 1:10 pm

    I’ve only had a handful of excursions with Jarad through mutual friends. He had an undeniable knack for encouraging one’s success in so many seemingly questionable endeavors. Jarad appreciated everyone’s success! He made a choice long ago to dismiss the negative tendencies of this world and, I’m sure that he helped many see much more amusement in their perceptions. His outlook was a striking force to be admired. Jarad relished in the mountains of his Creator, and may he now rest in His Kingdom! I hope his family and friends can be forever reassured of his supportive, positive impact!

  11. Andrew and Nancy Kleeger March 3, 2013 1:34 pm

    Nancy and I just heard this sad news. Our hearts are hurting and our thoughts are with Stephanie and their families. We just had dinner with Jarad and Stephanie a week ago in the Village. The Spackman’s are what JH is all about. We will miss him!

  12. Malaika March 4, 2013 12:08 am

    No words exist in this world, not matter the language, that can attenuate the shock, revitalize the numbness, clarify the confusion or give reason to why such a life has been cut short. My love to all.

  13. Doug and Jen Richter March 4, 2013 6:03 am

    We only knew Jarad briefly thru our family who lives in JH part time but have fond memories of his incredible spirit about life and the community in which he lived. We will always remember Jarad coming with us to see Steel Pulse at the Mangy Moose, we had a blast and danced all night long!

  14. Sargent Schutt March 4, 2013 9:06 am

    My heart goes out to the whole Spackman family. This is not something a parent should have to experience. It’s a bridge we know we might have to cross with a spouse or a brother or sister, but never so soon. It is utterly heartbreaking. Positive vibes to the whole Spackman family…

  15. peter March 4, 2013 8:04 pm

    Sad news indeed. Apocalypse Couloir and Death Canyon seem like appropriate names.

    The day before this tragic event, an avi in Apocalypse was triggered by a snowboarder according to reports:
    Date/Time: 02/28/2013 13:30:00
    Path: Apocalypse Couloir
    Elevation: 10000 Aspect: N
    Type: SS
    Size: 1 Depth: 6 Trigger: AR

    The day of the event, Matt Workman (see above) bailed from the Death Canyon area with his partner due to sketchy conditions and an avi event.

    The MORNING temperatures were also reported to be very warm according to Matt.

    The terrain was clearly unforgiving and the snow stability was unpredictable but very questionable given all the clues.

    Jarad & Christian were well qualified to handle the terrain and make rational decisions about safety just like Romeo and Onufer.

    Matt pointed out that “Safety was discussed numerous times within our groups”.

    One group sought out higher ground while the other bailed.

    We were lucky that we didn’t lose two fine individuals.

  16. Steven Funk March 5, 2013 1:23 pm

    It is beyond sadness, and more than grief when a tragedy of this sort strikes a family as wonderful, well constructed, and time tested as the Spackmans’. We can’t put in words how very sorry and heartbroken we are for every member of the Spackman family – and every person who knew and had the wonderful opportunity to call Jared a friend.

  17. Jim Stanford March 5, 2013 4:23 pm

    A celebration of Jarad’s life will take place Saturday, March 9, at Center for the Arts. Doors will open at 3:30 p.m., with a presentation beginning at 4:30. Appetizers and drinks will be served.

    A memorial fund has been set up through the Community Foundation: http://www.cfjacksonhole.org/donors/jarad-spackman-memorial-fund/

    For more, see the Facebook group established in his honor: http://www.facebook.com/groups/426163144133930/

  18. Dave Hicks March 6, 2013 8:22 pm

    Jarad was a friend, a guide and an advisor in the skiing world and in the real estate world. I will miss the unforgettable days on Teton Pass and the casual conversations around Teton Pines. Mary Ellen and I send our thoughts and prayers to Jarad’s family and friends.

  19. Ian March 7, 2013 2:18 pm

    Very sorry to hear of his passing. He has been a client for many years. I will toast a beer to him tonight.

  20. Jim Stanford March 9, 2013 2:19 pm

    The livestream broadcast of today’s celebration will be at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/outerlocal

    Also, here’s a nice profile of Jarad: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=9624

  21. Kay Merrill Richards March 13, 2013 4:58 pm

    Dave: Working on the 50th reunion with Jesselie, Marie, Glen and others, gave us an urgent heads up a few weeks ago and I so hope that you felt our love and prayers from such long time friends as we sent them your way. With happy memories from the past,and love for you, we all shared in your grief and in that of your families. We will hope to see you soon..thank you for contributing to the Davis 63 site. It has helped all of us to be in touch a little closer. Kay

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