avalanche kills snowmobiler on Togwotee

By Jim Stanford on February 27, 2012

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A snowmobiler died today after being caught in a slide in the vicinity of Togwotee Pass, the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reported.

The avalanche occurred in the Dry Lake Creek area, forecasters said. According to Google Maps, Dry Lake Creek is located south of Highway 26/287 and east of Mount Leidy.

Bridger-Teton forecasters rated the danger today as moderate, meaning riders should evaluate snow and terrain carefully. The forecast read:

Backcountry travelers could trigger recently developed wind slabs one to three feet in depth. Any extended periods of sunshine will make these slides more susceptible to failure on sunlit aspects as the day warms. Moderate hazard is not a green light; getting caught in one of these slides has the potential for severe consequences and caution is advised.

Update: The News&Guide reports the snowmobiler was part of a group of 10.
Update 2/28: As commenters have shared, authorities have identified the victim as Jack Loxtercamp, 35, of Minnesota. The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reported that Loxtercamp was high-marking on Grouse Mountain when the slide occurred. The slope was east facing and at 9,700 feet.

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rescue chopper crashes on Togwotee

By Jim Stanford on February 15, 2012

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A helicopter carrying members of Teton County Search and Rescue crashed this afternoon on Togwotee Pass.

Two rescuers and a pilot were on board. All three sustained injuries, and a rescue was underway, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

The crash occurred 6.7 miles south of Togwotee Mountain Lodge. The chopper had been dispatched to help a snowmobile party in distress. The crash happened between 1 and 2 p.m., County10 reported.

Teton County Search and Rescue sent a ground team to respond. Grand Teton National Park and Fremont County assisted. The full text of the sheriff’s office press release appears after the jump.

Update 8 p.m.: The sheriff’s office and county coroner have confirmed that one of the rescuers has died. Identification is being withheld, pending notification of family. The News&Guide has a detailed account of the response.

Update 9:20 p.m.: The deceased is a longtime member of the team. Veteran pilot Ken Johnson was flying. Mechanical trouble appears to be the cause, as the crash occurred on a mostly clear, calm day.

My deepest condolences to the entire Search and Rescue team.

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lodging tax funds: winners and losers

By Jim Stanford on January 26, 2012

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Aaron Pruzan carves a fresh turn Tuesday, when the morning snow glittered like diamonds. Pruzan has done yeoman's work on the Travel and Tourism Board, but often is outvoted by those who favor conventional marketing.

The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board has decided which community groups will receive lodging tax funds for promoting their events this year. The distribution is somewhat puzzling.

The chamber of commerce — well represented on the board — is the biggest recipient, netting $46,500 for Old West Days, Jackson Hole Marathon, Destination Wellness and WinterFest, the News&Guide reported.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will receive the maximum $20,000 for its Mountain Fest, the centerpiece of which is a free concert March 31. The resort has not yet booked a band, but the additional funding gives promoters a stronger hand, said Andy Calder, who produces the event for the resort with Dom Gagliardi of Poppa Presents.

“Let’s shoot for the stars* here,” Calder said.

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here’s the next viral photo too good to be true

By Jim Stanford on January 23, 2012

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Sorry, folks, park's closed!

Just repost to Facebook and tell your friends it’s from Yellowstone park or Granite Hot Springs or Togwotee Pass.

Already popping up in news feeds locally, this image appears to have originated on Facebook from an entity calling itself Love Mountains, where it has drawn comments from around the world.

Have fun with creative captions. One of the better ones I’ve seen involved moose joining with mountain lions for Occupy Cache Creek.

And if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, this article about snowmobilers clashing with moose in Colorado has some useful advice.

(Photo via Nezz Dog)

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regs, charges weighed in wake of B.C. avalanche

By Jim Stanford on March 16, 2010

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Slide path and debris on "Turbo Hill," as this part of the mountain is known.

An avalanche that killed two and nearly wiped out 200 snowmobilers west of Revelstoke, British Columbia, last weekend has prompted calls for closing the backcountry in times of high danger.

Royal Canadian Mounties also are investigating whether to press charges against event organizer “Ozone” Dave Clark of Calgary, who allegedly pressed ahead with the informal snowmobile competition called the Big Iron Shootout despite repeated avalanche warnings.

A crowd of sledheads had gathered for the Shootout on Boulder Mountain when high-marking ‘bilers triggered the massive slide. A wall of snow plowed into the crowd and sent spectators and sleds tumbling hundreds of feet. The pile of debris measured up to 15 feet deep, and the slide ran 1,100 feet in all.

Thirty-one people were injured, and the search and rescue effort cost an estimated $1 million.

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