Rock Springs avalanche

A skier was buried and died in an avalanche Saturday in Rock Springs Canyon outside the southern boundary of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Avalanche danger was rated as “considerable” Saturday following high winds and accumulation of new snow over the previous few days.

A Utah skier died just outside the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort boundary Saturday after triggering an avalanche in Rock Springs, a backcountry area south of the ski area.

According to Teton County Search and Rescue, the man was caught in Ralph’s Slide, between Zero G and M&M in Rock Springs Canyon.

Teton County Coroner Brent Blue identified him as Alexander Marra, 30, of Orem, Utah. Cause of death was closed head trauma. Marra was not wearing a helmet.

The man was with one ski partner who was not injured, police said. While the deceased was believed to not be carrying any backcountry gear, his partner was.

Search and Rescue was paged at 11:26 a.m., but Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol responded, according to Teton County Sheriff’s Lt. Matt Carr.

Skiers reported that backcountry gates one, two and three were closed by ski patrol during the retrieval of Marra’s body.

According to the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, the avalanche hazard at upper elevations was rated “considerable.”

In the Rendezvous Bowl plot, 8 inches of snow were reported containing 0.8 inches of moisture.

Saturday’s general advisory noted that “strong southwesterly to westerly ridgetop winds, new snow and ample snow available for transport have increased the depth and volume of wind slabs at the mid and upper elevations. The increasing snow load will also raise the likelihood of triggering large to very large persistent deep slab avalanches. Safe travel will demand a conservative approach to terrain management.”

Carr said the pair of skiers probably didn’t mean to end up above the cliff band.

“That isn’t a wise place to ski today,” he said. “They probably weren’t where they intended to be.”

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort officials released information about the incident at 3 p.m. Saturday. Resort officials said the avalanche was at least 2 feet deep at the crown. Marra was partially buried “with obvious signs of trauma” and pronounced dead at the scene.

“We are saddened to report this fatality,” President Jerry Blann said in a release, “and the staff at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort join me in expressing our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the victim.”

Erika Dahlby contributed to this report.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066, courts@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGcourts.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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(1) comment

Rick Bell

Seems someone dies every year in this area.

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