JACKSON, Wyo. — An avalanche in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) claimed the life of a man earlier Monday, Feb. 22, according to Grand Teton National Park spokesperson Denise Germann.
The Teton County Coroner confirmed that 33-year-old Jacksonite Matthew Brian, originally from Pennsylvania, was caught in the fatal slide.
The slide happened in an area known as Broken Thumb, near 25 Short located off of the Taggart Lake Trailhead in GTNP.
Officials with Teton County Search and Rescue (TCSAR) were in the park assisting rangers after the incident occurred according to Cody Lockhart of TCSAR.
The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center Foundation listed avalanche conditions as “considerable” Monday in the Teton area.
“Avalanche conditions remain dangerous at the mid and upper elevations,” The avalanche report for Monday said. “Backcountry travelers could easily trigger small to large wind slabs on steep, wind loaded slopes. While these slides could kill you, involvement in a persistent deep slab avalanche almost certainly will. Skiers and riders have the potential to trigger these large to very large slabs on a variety of aspects and elevations. If you want to play it safe, stay off of and out from underneath slopes greater than 30 degrees. Otherwise, very cautious route finding and expert snowpack evaluations skills will be a requirement for safe travel in avalanche terrain. Strong winds will likely keep snow surfaces cool. However, if extended periods of sunshine do occur and snow surfaces start to become damp, transition to shaded terrain.”
This is the third avalanche fatality in Northwest Wyoming within one week.
Last Thursday, February 18, 31-year-old snowboarder and Jackson local, Michael McKelvey, was killed in an avalanche after hitting a jump built on Togwotee Pass.
The day before that, a 55-year-old Michigan snowmobiler, Greg Stanczak, was killed in the Greys River area southeast of Alpine from an avalanche that caught him and seven other snowmobilers.
“Check yourself, check your friends,” Matt Hansen, Communications Director for Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation told Buckrail before the winter backcountry season began. “Check your beacon every single time. Check your friend’s beacon every single time. Just take a couple of seconds to think about your next decision. Have the patience and have the presence of mind to just slow down a little bit and think about your next step.”
Backcountry users are encouraged to check avalanche danger at JHAvalanche.org before going into the backcountry.
Buckrail offers sincerest condolences to friends and family of the deceased.