Skier killed in avalanche in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park

The Broken Thumb Couloir. Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia/Broken Thumb Couloir

MOOSE, Wyoming, Feb. 23, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A Wyoming man has been killed in an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park.

The deceased is Matthew Brien, 33, from Jackson, said a news release from the National Park Service.

A party of three local residents departed from the Taggart Lake Trailhead on Monday morning, with an intent to ski the Broken Thumb Couloir. The party was skiing one at a time in the upper part of the couloir when Brien, who was leading the group, entered the narrow area of the couloir above the rappels and an avalanche occurred.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received an emergency call at approximately 12 p.m. Monday reporting the avalanche on the peak known as 25 Short, the news release said.

Park rangers, Teton County search and rescue members, and Bridger-Teton National Forest personnel jointly responded to the incident.

“The avalanche was up to two feet deep and fractured 50 to 100 feet above Brien, sweeping him over the rappel and downslope for approximately 1,000 feet,” the news release said. “Other members of the ski party dialed 911 and reached Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to report the incident and also called two friends who were skiing down canyon on an FRS radio and told them about the avalanche. Both parties made their way to Brien and found him partially buried. They removed him from the debris and initiated CPR.”

The Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter with park rangers immediately responded. The helicopter landed on Taggart Lake and rescue personnel skied to the scene.

Brien suffered significant trauma and was determined deceased at the scene. His body was flown to a front-country location and transferred to the Teton County Coroner.

The other members of the parties skied out.

On Saturday morning, two snowmobilers died in separate avalanches in Elko County, Nevada, and Bear Lake County, Idaho.

In addition, on Feb. 6, four backcountry skiers were killed in an avalanche in the Wilson Glade area of Millcreek Canyon.


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