One man died and two were injured in a Sunday morning avalanche that swept the steep and challenging Sickle Couloir on Mount Moran.

The man killed in the slide was identified late Sunday as Luke Lynch, 38, a Jackson resident and the Wyoming director of the Conservation Fund. Lynch was married.

“The group was ascending when a shallow wet slough avalanche released above them,” Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. 

Some of the men were swept 500 feet over ice and rock before the avalanche came to a stop, Skaggs said.

The group also included Jackson Hole residents Zahan Billimoria, 37, a well-known skier and mountaineer who works at Exum Mountain Guides; attorney Stephen P. Adamson Jr., 42; and Brook Yeomans, 37, a Colter Elementary School teacher.

Adamson, critically injured in the avalanche, was flown from the mountain to Jackson Hole Airport and from there to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

Yeomans was also injured, but not so seriously.

Billimoria was able to get out of the slide and then aid his companions until Grand Teton National Park rangers could arrive. Because snow continued to run, Billimoria dragged his friends out of the slide path.

Park rangers got the call at about 9:30 a.m. and had the first rescuer on scene by late morning. They were off the mountain by 3 p.m., Skaggs said.

Besides difficulties posed by the isolated location of the slide, “the weather has not helped,” she said, noting snow flurries on the mountain.

Rescuers at the 9,000-foot level on the mountain had to move at one point, Skaggs said, because of “continued avalanche activity” near where they were working.

Some rescuers were flown to the site and others reached the area after boating across Jackson Lake from Colter Bay Marina, Skaggs said. There are no maintained trails to the base of the mountain, which rises to 12,605 feet north of the better known Grand Teton and its mates in the Cathedral Group.

“It’s not a place you can get to easily by trail,” Skaggs said.

Moran’s summit is 6,000 feet above Jackson Lake, 2 miles to the east. Sickle Couloir is a narrow 3,100-foot chute that starts at the top of a shoulder of the peak and runs to tree line at up to 45 degrees. It was first skied in 2000.

Editor's note: This article was edited at 9:30 p.m. May 17 to remove a reference to the size of the slide, which is in dispute.

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(1) comment

Jean and Phil Hocker

Luke Lynch was a wonderful man. Always enthusiastic, hard-working, very capable at his conservation work, and a great friend.
-- Luke did an amazing long canoe expedition in the Barren Grounds of Canada in 2001. In the middle of that trip, his group passed Dodie and Stearnie Stearns, and Jean and me, along the Thelon River. From 'way upstream we heard a long holler, "Hey, Stearnie, is that you!??" from Luke. We visited together, and then his fast-moving group pulled on ahead of us. They had miles to go before they slept.
-- RIP, friend. Best wishes to the family. Persevere. / phil hocker

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