World-class skiing and snowboarding at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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12/29/2008 Incident Statement, 4 PM update


Posted on - 2008-12-29

 

(Jackson Hole, Wyoming, December 29, 2008 4:00pm MST) At approximately 9:26 am this morning routine avalanche hazard reduction work by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) Ski Patrol triggered an avalanche of significant size down the southeast aspect of an area at JHMR referred to as the Headwall.  The Headwall which had not been open to the public this season to date and was not expected to open in the near future, consists of steep, expert terrain. 

The slide descended from the top of the Headwall, and a second slide was triggered, which continued down to the base of the run reaching the west and south sides of the building that houses three resort restaurants, causing considerable non-structural damage to the building.

This incident took place prior to the Bridger Gondola being open to the public, but a number of JHMR operational employees were in the vicinity.  A search for potential victims was conducted and by 10:06am, all JHMR employees were accounted for.

Following the incident a decision was made to close the resort temporarily while further avalanche hazard reduction work took place. Lower mountain lifts were quickly re-opened. At this time the upper mountain remains closed while Ski Patrol continues its avalanche hazard reduction routines in an attempt to get the resort re-opened as quickly and safely as possible. 

Due to the significant snowfall received in the Teton region (62 inches in past seven days), we have received a request from our partners at Bridger Teton National Forest to close the OB gates into the surrounding backcountry.  JHMR will honor this request and close all our gates into the backcountry until further notice.

"Our patrollers have done a phenomenal job showing the utmost professionalism and teamwork.  I am extremely proud of their efforts and appreciate the risks they take on a daily basis.  I also want to acknowledge our entire staff under these challenging circumstances” stated Jerry Blann, President, JHMR.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has established standards and protocols for minimizing the risk of avalanche that are based on the current weather and snowpack conditions. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort receives over 400 inches of snow annually and is dedicated to making the skiing and riding as safe as possible for our guests. Avalanche conditions change hour-by-hour and day-by-day. JHMR Ski Patrol continuously monitors elements of the weather and snowpack conditions 24 hours a day throughout the winter and uses this information to continually assess potential hazards.

We acknowledge and are grateful for the quick response of the community including the Teton County Sheriff's Department, Teton County Search and Rescue and USFS.