Jackson residents are mourning the loss of their friend, Trace Carrillo, who died Wednesday in an avalanche while snowboarding on Taylor Mountain.
“This is an incredible tragedy,” Carrillo’s friend and former Teton Valley Ranch Camp co-worker Pete Stone said. “He was a very passionate man, entirely dedicated to outdoor pursuits, his job with the USFS, and the craft of the great American dirtbag.”
Carrillo, a U.S. Forest Service wilderness ranger and avid snowboarder, was split-boarding Wednesday afternoon when an avalanche struck soon after he started his descent of Taylor’s south face and buried him.
Teton County Search and Rescue, with the help of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol’s avalanche rescue dogs, found Carrillo’s body Thursday morning under two feet of debris.
“Teams worked the top, middle and bottom of the slide path, and used beacon searches as well as probe poles,” TCSAR communications director Matt Hansen said.
Rescuers retrieved Carrillo’s split board below the toe of the slide, Hansen said.
“We are very sad for his friends and family,” TCSAR Chief Advisor Cody Lockhart said.
Carrillo’s friends said the 28-year-old was smart, friendly and adored by everyone he met.
“Whenever I saw him on the pass or around town he was incredibly kind and friendly, stoked about the next big pow day, or the opportunities of riding big lines,” Stone said. “It goes to show you that life is so precious.”
Carrillo lived in Jackson most of the year and worked at the Mangy Moose Saloon.
“His integrity and intelligence were appreciated by all who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him,” Mangy Moose management posted on Facebook. “Consistently cheerful and upbeat, Trace made everyone around him happier.”
The Mangy Moose plans to make a donation to search and rescue in Carrillo’s name.
Avalanche danger was moderate Wednesday, with a warning about unstable snow on steep terrain. In its evening avalanche report, the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center said three other avalanches were triggered in the southern Teton Range on Wednesday.
“Skiers who ventured into steep avalanche-prone terrain also triggered slab avalanches 16 to 18 inches deep on a southeast aspect of the Pyramid and on a south aspect in Unskiabowl,” the report said. “A snow machine triggered a 12-inch-deep slab avalanche on a steep slope west-northwest of Ski Lake.”
Avalanche conditions can be checked at the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center’s website, JHAvalanche.org.
In a press release, Hansen made a plea to the backcountry community on behalf of search and rescue: “The public is reminded to use extra caution in the backcountry during the ongoing health crisis.”