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2 Skiers Die in Separate Avalanches in the Tetons (Update)

Heavy snow destabilized conditions

On Sunday afternoon, two skiers died in separate backcountry avalanches in western Wyoming. Elizabeth Gray Benson, 28, of Jackson, Wyoming, was skiing with four other people in the Cliff Creek/Cabin Creek area west of Bondurant when a small avalanche swept her into the trees. The name of the other skier and the circumstances around the accident have not been released.

Officials say heavy snowfall and an unstable snowpack have made conditions particularly hazardous. From the news release:

Yesterday afternoon there were two separate avalanche fatalities in the mountains of Western, Wyoming. Both involved backcountry skiers who were caught and suffered fatal trauma in what are believed to have been small avalanches. Additional snowfall occurred overnight especially on the west slope of the Teton Range and the Continental Divide. Unstable conditions exist on steep slopes and even small slides have demonstrated the ability to kill. At this time Search and Rescue resources are focused on these two incidents and another involving an overdue group.

More information can be found at the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center's website.

UPDATE: JH Weekly is reporting that the second skier has been identified as Nick Gillespie, an employee of Grand Teton National Park's summer trail crew. He and three other skiers were caught in a minor slide in the Berry Creek area of park. He was 30 years old.

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