Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2003-03-13
Submitted By: BTAC; Bob Comey
Place: Sheep Pass in the Salt River Range
State: WY
Country: USA
Summary: 3 snowmobilers caught, carried, 1 injured, 1 buried and rescue with transceiver

The following information was provided by Gary Baird of Star Valley

Search & Rescue. On Thursday March 13th a snowmobiler in the Salt River

Range of Wyoming was buried eight feet deep in an avalanche (HS-AV-5-G)

and recovered alive by his companions. This event occured at about 1 PM

approximately one mile north of Sheep Pass which is about 20 miles

south-southeast of Afton, WY in the Smiths Fork Area of the

Bridger-Teton National Forest. A highmarking rider triggered a hard

slab with a 10 to 15 foot crown. Three riders were caught. One had

been stuck and was in the process of turning around his sled when he was

swept 300 yards and buried below eight feet of debris. He had a

transciever which he had purchased the day before. He was dug out by

his companions and revived with minor injuries. The second rider caught

was partially buried and pushed into some trees. He suffered rib and

kidney injuries. The third member of the party caught was able to ride

out of the slide. The members of this party were equiped with beacons

and probes and certainly saved the life of the buried victim.

This hard slab was triggered on an east aspect at an elevation of 9,800

feet. The starting zone was wind loaded, steep (40 to 42 degrees) and

had cornices above it. The bed surface was mostly rocks with a little

vegetation. The slide was approximately 300 yards across and ran 1,000

yards. Warm temperatures and strong sunshine were affecting the

snowpack at the time of this event. The general avalanche hazard in

this area was rated as considerable by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche

Center on Thursday.

Bob Comey

Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center