I’ve been holding my breath all day today in fear of an avalanche incident on the Pass or at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Unfortunately my thoughts have come true.
The details are still very sketchy, but the word is that at least two substantial in-bounds avalanches occurred today at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. One in the Alta 2 area, and a larger slide in the Toilet Bowl area below the Thunder lift. The Toilet Bowl slide, which had a 6-8′ crown, caused one fatality.
Dave Nodine, a 31 year old Wilson resident, was found in about 10 minutes under 8′ of debris. Conflicting reports say Dave was searching for his ski after jumping what is known as “The Cave”, indicating his entry to the area from Tower 3 Chute or through closed terrain in the Unskiable area. Others, including the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, indicate Dave jumped a cliff in Paintbrush, a steep slope that gives access to the Toilet Bowl area. There are many rocks and cliffs to the skiers right of Paintbruch….but in closed terrain. Though some of these closed areas have been open in past years with large amounts of snowfall, they were closed the day of this accident. The slope Dave was searching for his ski on (most likely now in open terrain) then released, potentially from further loading from above. Ski patrollers witnessed the jump and avalanche, and were able to respond immediately.
Please pray for those involved and hope
for the best as this story unfolds. –Steve
we were on Thunder right at the time of the slide. we were diverted off the upper mountain at that point by a mountain employee who told us of the slide. at that point, there was no information that indicated anyone was in the slide, although they were looking for people.
we also had ridden in paintbrush earlier, and at that time there were closed signs in the toilet bowl area. however, tower 3 was open.
Thank you for the info Steven.
The resort and ski patrol must be going insane right now. You know there had to be a ton of pressure on them to open up the upper mountain today…due to the slight break in the weather…and the incoming storm. To hear of all these in bounds avalanches…on slopes that have been previously skied…is really crazy. This snowpack/rain crust totally sucks!
My condolences to all those involved. Another skier tragedy.
My friend skied by the area after the slide and also reported a 3-4′ crown. Said it looked like a pretty good slide. It’s sad, this death is exactly what the resort has been trying to prevent the past 2 days with all the closings.
I’m not sure about the accuracy of the red markings of the slide path in the picture. I was shown a real photo of the slide path today by a guy who was involved in the rescue. I think the slide actually happened to the skiers left of the cave, and extended towards the entrance of Toilet Bowl. I didn’t see it first hand, so I could be wrong. As best as we know, Dave, the guy who died was searching for his ski when the slide hit. He was skiing with a friend of mine, who I ran into at the base of Thunder right after their run together in Toilet Bowl. So we waited for a few minutes, not realizing that a slide had happened until Thunder (and the rest of the upper mountain) closed. My friend kept trying Dave on his cell phone, but no answer. After a couple hours, the news hit hard.
Thank you for the details John and I am so sorry for the loss of your friend’s friend. It must have been hard on you as well. Let’s hope this is the last tragedy caused by the current snowpack.
This is the report from today’s afternoon avalanche report.
“This afternoon there was an avalanche fatality in the Toilet Bowl area of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Two skiers triggered a slab avalanche on a slope that was previously skied and subject to avalanche hazard reduction efforts in the morning. Both were caught and carried. One was deeply buried, located with a transceiver and probe and recovered from a depth of seven feet in less than ten minutes by the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol. Unfortunately he did not survive. Our sincere regrets go out to his friends and family.” -BTNF Avalanche Center
JH new and guide just posted a report:
News and Guide has identified as David Nodine of Wilson. Article here:
The info: Victim was 31-year-old Dave Nodine from Wilson- see http://www.jhnews.com/article.php?art_id=4064 for full story. Super sad.
Very sad. 🙁
Surprising that he was wearing a beacon. I’ve often considered carrying avy gear inbounds; looks like now there’s even more reason to do so, especially since fatal inbound and backcountry avys are now tied for this season in the US. On big days like this, might as well use the same safe traveling precautions that you would in the backcountry. RIP.
Rumors will always bounce around, but I feel it is important to say something about my friend Dave. He had a zest for life and loved skiing in Jackson. In all my experiences with Dave on the Pass or in and around the resort, he always trended towards the side of safety, thus the fact that he was one of maybe 5-10% who wore a transceiver while skiing in bounds today. He never struck me as one to duck a rope, thus I feel he entered this area by means of skiing Tower Three first and never violated any closure signs. I last talked with him around noon today, and he told me that he was having a blast. My condolences go out to all his friends and family (especially his wife Christine) as well as my best wishes to all the Patrol and those involved who have put in relentless hours and days in trying to make our mountain as safe as possible given the terrain we live around.
Thank you for your comments A Luther. To me…it doesn’t matter whether he ducked a rope or not. Dave will no doubt be missed by many.
There were 2 earthquakes under yellowstone around that time: http://www.seis.utah.edu/req2webdir/recenteqs/Quakes/quakes0.html
Kinda weird…but my guess is that they had little to do with the avalanches.
Did he duck the line or not? It matters in terms of the shape of the mountain and how we should feel about today and whether patrol is caught up. We need to be honest here for the sake of safety. If they ducked, it means Patrol was not ready for the area to be skied (obvously) and that tells us something about the areas they have cleared. If not, well it means they’re having trouble keeping up with this weather. I was on PB and the turn into TB was tempting, but definitely roped off. I was also on Alta 2 and it was clearly open. Anyone willing to say what really happened?
I skied toilet bowl less than a minute before it slid and am very thankful it didn’t slide on me but am also very sad it had to slide on Dave. When I skied it minutes before we did elephant tree, to paint brush to toilet bowl and it was all open, other than the caution signs on paint brush. There were many bomb holes from previous skiers and was completely tracked. I just wanted to verify that toilet bowl was open.
Steve – I was on scene moments after the slide. When I arrived there were just a few patrollers. With the snow falling hard and vis limited it was difficult to initially determine the extent of what had just happened. When I first looked down on the situation from the traverse in upper Amphitheater I thought it was a localized pocket or slough…I couldn’t see the crown. We were all concerend that more could come down on us and the patrol naturally wanted all “civilians” to stay clear. I had been skiing in-bounds with transceiver and avy gear fearful that something like this might happen. As a (former) mtn guide with rescue experience I couldn’t stand by so I quickly skied to the base of the debris field and got my avy gear in order to assist in the search. By this time, the patrol had located the victim and were digging furiously. Many more patrol were quickly descending on the scene and we formed an organized probe line to search for other victims. A transceiver search had been initiated and came up with the first victim but we all assumed there could be others without transceivers. As the vis was improving it became clear that this was a major in-bounds slab release. The crown was easily 6+’ and initiated just below the cave (in Toilet Bowl). The crown ran ESE and also WNW for quite a distance around the bowl. The debris field ran to the swale just before Amphitheater. We probed the debris field in a very organized manner for two hours and thankfully did not come up with other victims. Any rescue situation is exhausting and this was no exception. JHMR patrol has been working tirelessly and in stressful conditions to keep the mountain safe in what is unfolding as a very dangerous year. I know of several occasions where patrol have been swept and/or injured during avvy control. They’ve got to be “worked” right now but that wasn’t evident in yesterday’s incident. Everyone that was there put forth huge undiminished effort. It was clear that all involved were taking the situation very personally.
As most are now realizing, this is an exceptioanlly dangerous year in the teton snow pack. The persistent week layer(s) that are very deep will remain a ticking time bomb in many locations. Even slopes that have been bombed and skied numerous times remain dangerous.
I’ve experienced loss of life in the mountains on several occasions. The impact of this remains. There’s usually no spectacle to it, it’s just your climbing party or, if you’re lucky, some rescue professionals that are involved and affected. This was different; there were many cildren and parents watching this thing unfold.
I thought about Dave (who I didn’t know), his family, and his friends all night. I’m so sorry.
Very, very sad. The entire village community is thinking about Dave and his family right now. JHSP has clearly been risking their own lives and working furiously to get the mountain open (no doubt under pressure from above, unfortunately). It seems like leaving the upper mountain closed another day may have prevented this tragedy. Closed runs or not closed, it’s clear that the snowpack was not ready for the public.
The report from the Sheriff’s Office (Found on Planet Jackon Hole’s website) indicates he may have entered the area from the Tower 3 side.
At 1:33 p.m., David Nodine snowboarded into the Tower 3 chutes, off Thunder Lift, and fell. While correcting himself, Nodine was swept downhill by a three-to-four-foot deep slab avalanche that buried him under five to six feet of debris for eight to 10 minutes. Nodine wore a helmet and avalanche transceiver.
After friends and onlookers dug him free from the slide, they immediately began CPR, continued by JHMR ski patrol. At 2:24 p.m., however, Nodine was pronounced dead at the JHMR Medical Clinic. Teton County Coroner’s Office declared his an accidental death by suffocation.
“It’s unknown at this time whether Nodine triggered the avalanche that killed him or if skier’s above Nodine initiated the deadly slide,”
Though the expert Tower 3 chutes are inbounds, it is unclearwhether they were open or “roped off” for safety. However, Bridger-Teton Forest Avalanche Center reports that the slopes had been skied before Nodine went down, and the area had been “subject to avalanche reduction efforts” that morning.
The sheriff’s office reports that JHMR Ski Patrol will continue its investigation.-PJH
Dear Post #19 – it seems a bit early to jump to such conclusions. Lucky guy to be clarevoyant – you must have made a killing in the market last month. When exactly do you predict the depth hoar will stabilize?
Reader – it’s always so hard to determine the tone of someone’s message when reading emails. So, if you weren’t meaning to sound antagonistic, just ignore this.
Your remarks above sounded to be missing the kindness we all should show ‘our’ community at this time. If that is indeed the case, what will negative spew gain us?
Your message itself is solid – when will the snowpack heal/stabilize and provide for more safe travel in the land we love? A question on all our minds. However once you began to question how Mark knows when stability will happen, your ‘message’ was lost.
He doesn’t ‘know’ when mountain travel will again be ‘less hazardous’ and never suggested he did. Maybe he was a bit hasty in his verbage; but is that a crime? He appeared to just be throwing out a word of caution and questioned whether waiting a bit more ‘could’ have been a ‘potential’ solution.
After a tragedy of this magnitude for our valley it’s hardly helpful to have anything but a healthy dose of humility in ones words.
Sad news when someone dies…gone forever. I lost 2 close friends this past summer and fall.The “White Dragon” is out there…lurking…hungry. We’ve had an incredible…historical…amount of snow this past week, laid on top of a very fragile and unstable snowpack. The complete opposite of last year. PEOPLE…PLEASE be aware of your actions! Just because you wear a transceiver does not make you a safe skier. A safe skier uses terrain recognition, assesses steep slope stability, and uses a “how will I affect skiers below me”-type attitude. There are a lot of skiers and riders not using these qualities right now at the JHMR and in the backcountry. The actions of these 2 skiers in Toilet Bowl could have killed more people…including one of my best friends, who was nearby observing debris from another skier/rider snow release. This bullshit “game” of “but, I went past the last closed sign”…and then turning, or hiking up, into a closed area has got to stop! It’s not fair to endanger people below, or to others that have to risk there lives to help people that get into trouble when making poor judgement decisions ! If you have the need to ski steep slopes, huck yourself off a cliff, or find unstable untracked powder…do us all a favor, and go into the backcountry where no one else is around, or in your way!
…It’s all backcountry, we should treat it as such. This is what Dave’s untimely death shows us.
Let’s not get sucked into the hype and become complacent because The Mountain claims to be a resort. It’s a mountain.
My sympathy goes out to the victims’ family and friends.
I hope this incident helps to open some skiers’ and riders’ eyes to the fact that even in-bounds skiing requires good decision making and judgement, especially at JHMR. People ski every inch of the Village terrain these days, and some lines that get hit or poached regulary in deep snow (think Alta 0, upper Unskiabowl, Pair-a-chutes) have significant potential to endanger others if they release. It’s simply impossible to do snow control on every square inch of the resort that people are accessing.
pod… you must be fuller’s wife. you cant just keep the mountain closed forever because someone has 20/20 hindsite. the people who work hard to provide us with lift access skiing have a job to do and that is to get this mountain open every day. if the just give up then how will they ever know when to start again? I’m positive they don’t ask Fuller. your welcome to stay on teewinot for as long as you like this year.
P.S everyone out there do something nice for a patroler this week.
Being a fanatic of the mountains for some time, I have experienced first hand and heard many accounts of accidents and tragedy. And I have always listened to the voice of the community surrounding these “events.” One thing that always runs true is that human nature tries to pinpoint the blame. It is easier for us to say that we “knew” this was going to happen as if we were already ready for it and were just waiting, or that the victim somehow caused his or her demise with poor decision making or inexperience. It seems like it is easier for us the living to say I would never do that or it wouldn’t have happened to me because I am better than that. I think the one thing we can all take from this particular tragedy is that it could have been any of us. And the one thing that runs true in the mountains and in life is that precaution minimizes risk not eliminates it. And the gift the mountains give us is humility not status.
for the record mr. JHMR lover, pod is not my wife and i never suggested closing the mountain “forever” because of 20/20 hindsite. and yes, the people who work for the mountain in order to get it open do work very hard, every day, but you seem to be suggesting that they have a responsibility to open it every single day, regardless of current conditions, so impatient people like you can get the goods as fast as possible. in talking to at least one patrolman (who is a friend), in the two days leading up to the avalanche, i had never heard of such treacherous conditions at the village in the fourteen years i’ve lived here (nor had he). taking an extra day,letting the snowpack go through its process at the ski area would hurt no one but the JHMR bank accounts.
Hey jhmr lover, in your opinion what was today all about at the resort?? – stalling and waiting forever or recognizing that the resort needed more time to stabilize and be healed??
By the way – the ladies must be lining up for the like of you with that “must be Fuller’s wife” sexism. Wow impressively prejudice. You’ll rack ’em up with that ‘tude!!
You jump rather quickly to make judgment by using words like ‘forever’ in your post. Keep the mtn. closed forever?! Idiot.
Additionally, sure the patrol has a job to do (get the mountain open) but like today has proven, just maybe, sections of the mountain are not ready for opening yet. Should all caution be thrown to the wind just to satisfy your need for adrenaline release??
I agree that opening a mountain as early as possible for our hedonism is what patrol is for, but a little caution and hard work like today ‘can’ and ‘is’ wise.
A newer patroller remarked in conversation recently that after finishing the x-mas a.m. control session his veteran route boss felt the line ‘just didn’t feel right’ and went to control the route a second time. What if that second pass still made him uncomfortable? Patrol then has choices – wait to open that line for a time, delay the opening of the ‘whole’ mountain even longer to make a 3rd pass, or put caution to the wind and open it up anyway. On that particular day they waited to open the whole upper mtn. for a good number of hours. Frustrating as a consumer? Yes. Frustrating as a survivalist? Not in the least. Perhaps this was a hedonists version of a crime but it certainly wasn’t one in the game of survival.
Lastly, . . . Teewinot is an undiscovered paradise that I’ve only recently began to utilize as I take my 3 year old to ski there. He shreds it up but with no judgment about whether it’s ‘cool and rad’ enough for the likes of a jhmr lover. Or if you’re referring to the Mt. Teewinot . . . well that’ll have to wait until it becomes safe to ski – hey!!! sounds just like the patrol.