Teton Avalanche Kills Skiers

Avalanche slides above four backcountry skiers ascending Mount Moran in Grand Teton National Park

Mount Moran Jackson
The Sickle Couloir off Mount Moran. PHOTO: Mark Fisher

Editor’s Note: Sadly, POWDER has learned that Stephen P. Adamson, Jr., passed away Tuesday evening, May 19, at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. He is survived by his wife and two children.

The skiing community in Jackson, Wyoming, mourns the loss of another after an avalanche on Mount Moran on Sunday, May 17, took the life of Jackson Hole resident Luke Lynch, 38.

According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, Lynch was ascending the Sickle Couloir with three other Jackson residents—Exum Mountain Guide Zahan Billimoria, 37, attorney Stephen P. Adamson Jr., 42, and elementary school teacher Brook Yeomans, 37. Adamson sustained critical injuries in the avalanche and was evacuated off the mountain by helicopter to the airport, where he was then flown to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. Yeomans was also injured.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that Billimoria managed to get out of the slide path and that he was able to aid his companions until emergency crews could arrive. “The group was ascending when a shallow wet slough avalanche released above them,” Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs told the News and Guide.

Read the article from Jackson Hole News and Guide for more information about the incident.

While the details surrounding Sunday’s avalanche on Mount Moran have not been released, this news serves as a tragic reminder that even in May, wet slides, known as spring giants, still lurk in the snowpack. The Sickle Couloir off of Mount Moran (12,605 feet) is one of the “most sought after extreme descents for ski mountaineers,” wrote the late Steve Romeo on his blog, TetonAt.com. Though the difficult route remained off the radar for many years, it gained notoriety in TGR’s 2014 release, Almost Ablaze, with a descent by local skier Max Hammer.

An active member of the Jackson Hole community, Lynch worked in many capacities to help maintain the natural landscapes that make Wyoming such a unique place. He opened the Wyoming office of the Conservation Fund in 2006 to facilitate the protection of valuable open space and wildlife habitat. After joining the fund, he helped protect more than 150,000 acres across Wyoming. He had previously served as an associate with Solitude Management, a private equity and commercial real estate firm, was managing director of the Green River Valley Land Trust, and a special projects director for the Jackson Hole Land Trust. He also served on the advisory board of Friends of Pathways, was senior advisor at the Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment & Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, served on the advisory council, Wyoming State Forestry, and was a past founding director of the Green River Valley Land Trust. In a story Lynch wrote in December for Explore Big Sky, he demonstrated he wasn’t a big risk-taker, and was committed to his three boys.

The POWDER staff sends their condolences to Lynch’s family, friends, and the Jackson Hole community. Today, we also remember Dean Potter. While not known for skiing, Potter was a legendary climber who died in a Base Jumping accident on Saturday, May 16th.