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Backcountry Savvy Critical Now

January 26, 2012 Grand Teton National Park, Teton County No Comments
Taylor Mountain before it slid Tuesday. Courtesy Trina.

A mammoth avalanche on Taylor Mountain and another on Horseshoe Bowl Tuesday serve as serious reminders, avalanche forecasters say, that we’re dealing with a period of prolonged instability.

Bridger Teton Avalanche forecaster Bob Comey says he’s surprised there were no fatalities in the Taylor Mountain avalanche. He said backcountry users must be informed of known avalanche paths and where slides have already transpired.

“You can see where avalanches are occurring,” Comey said. “If it’s a major avalanche path and it hasn’t slid I would be suspect, and I would wait.”

Comey also noted that even if you think you’ve selected a wise route in the backcountry, other people’s routing can come into play.

“You can pick a really safe line and take a great run. But then you might go underneath something to get back to your trailhead, which somebody else might be on that’s not so safe,” Comey said. “There’s a lot of places in this valley where people would go, where they may cross under something that might be a concern if someone else was on it [above them]. Granite Canyon in Grand Teton National Park is a great example.”

Ultimately, Comey stressed, in these especially dangerous conditions, an informed decision can save your life. – Robyn Vincent

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