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Avalanche at National Park Claims Skier's Life

Fatality occurred at Grand Teton in Wyoming
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2021 11:13 AM CST
Avalanche at National Park Claims Skier's Life
File photo of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.   (Getty/mdesigner125)

(Newser) – The nation's deadlier-than-usual avalanche season just got worse. A 33-year-old skier was killed Monday at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, reports Buckrail. Matthew Brien of Jackson, Wyo., was skiing ahead of two others at a spot known as the Broken Thumb Couloir when the snowpack gave way. "The avalanche was up to 2 feet deep and fractured 50 to 100 feet above Brien, sweeping him over the rappel and downslope for approximately 1,000 feet," says the park service in a statement. His two companions called for help, but Brien was pronounced dead at the scene. His death bring the season's toll from avalanches throughout the US to 32, reports CNN. Earlier this month, 15 fatalities were recorded in the US in one week, the highest figure in more than a century.

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Last year saw 23 deaths, with 25 in each of the previous two years. In the Grand Teton area, recent snow and heavy winds have created dangerous conditions on the slopes, the local Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center warned Monday. "Backcountry travelers could easily trigger small to large wind slabs on steep, wind loaded slopes," the center warned. "While these slides could kill you, involvement in a persistent deep slab avalanche almost certainly will." Brien is the third fatality in the area in the last week, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide. (In another avalanche, one skier's quick action saved lives.)

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