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Grand Teton National Park Uses a Helicopter to Rescue a Skier After an Avalanche

Grand Teton National Park officials say they’ve rescued a skier after an avalanche within the park. 

According to a press release, Grand Teton park rangers requested a helicopter from Teton County Search & Rescue after an avalanche injured a 29-year-old skier. Officials say the woman was skiing with four men on Sunday afternoon. The group was near Banana Couloir when they triggered an avalanche. 

Three of the men managed to self-arrest, a tactic skiers use to stop sliding. However, the snow slide pulled one of the men and the woman down the mountain. The woman was pushed down the furthest at about 1,500 feet. Neither skier ended up fully buried, but the woman had serious injuries.

The incident happened around 10,800 feet, making it a tricky and rugged area for a rescue. Officials decided to use a helicopter to fly to Bana Couloir, part of the prominent Prospectors Mountain.  

Rescuers say they couldn’t land the helicopter nearby, so they used a short-haul to get the injured skier off the mountain. A short-haul is “a rescue method where a patient and rescuer are secured to a fixed rope that is connected to the belly of the helicopter for a short flight out of the backcountry.”

The helicopter then flew the woman to an ambulance in another part of the park. 

The remaining skiers were able to ski out themselves.

Avalanche Safety

Anyone spending time in the backcountry in the winter should check in with several agencies that forecast and watch for avalanches. Plus, visitors in the backcountry should take an avalanche safety course.

A good indicator of an avalanche-prone area is finding mountain slopes between a 35 and 50-degree angle. Slopes less than 30 degrees rarely see avalanches. Officials recommend buying an inclinometer to help you understand the dangers of the trails you are hiking on.

In the Grand Tetons, visitors can get a daily forecast at bridgertetonavalanchecenter.org

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