Lessons learned by non-fatal avalanche in Jackson Hole
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Unlike in the city newspapers, sometimes “everybody survived” stories make the big headlines in ski town newspapers. Such was the case in Jackson Hole after an avalanche near Teton Pass left a backcountry skier buried up to his neck.The Jackson Hole News & Guide explains that the avalanche took the four skiers, who had a combined 125 years of experience, by surprise. They had seen an avalanche only once before in this particular area. Further, they had evaluated the slope stability of the slope they were skiing.However, they had not considered that adjacent slopes might have different snow conditions. The avalanche that occurred was a “sympathetic” release on an adjacent slope – where the man was standing, waiting for the companions. The individual was carried only 60 feet. While he managed to “swim” to stay afloat, his arm was broken and his shoulder dislocated.Well-equipped with beacons, shovels, and probes, the group also had extra clothing, a bivy sack, and even thermoses carrying hot tea, all of which were invaluable. The skier who was caught in the slide began to go into shock. Their preparedness may have prevented him from dying of hypothermia. Still, having lost three skis and a pack in the avalanche, they needed outside aid. Even in the age of cell phones and helicopters, it took several hours.The moral of the story? Carry a big pack, says one of the skiers, Dave Coon. “Go big, or don’t go.” In addition to everything they carried, he wishes he had also carried a GPS computer and a foam pad.The next week, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported an avalanche with an unhappy outcome. Despite some considerable preparation, a backcountry skier, Laurel Dana, died of suffocation.The hard choices for a parent in snow countryWINTER PARK – Among the many decisions faced by parents in snow country is how should their first-born be allowed to learn to slide on snow.For the 4-year-old son of Patrick Brower, publisher of the Winter Park Manifest, snowmobiling is out of the question. And it’s not really a matter of skis vs. snowboards. That juncture comes later.You might think that leaves cross-country skis. But then you’re probably not a cross-country skier. Daddy Patrick explains that the anguished choices are the diagonal stride, his first love, and skate skiing. Son Sebastian will be striding first.Brower has no illusions about the long term.”I fear that once he’s exposed to alpine skiing whether on skis or a snowboard he’ll never want to cross-country ski again, because the thrill of careening downhill at extremely high speeds, frequently out of control, in the midst of trees and other out-of-control kids, its tough to match on cross-country skis,” he says, adding wryly: “Although I’ve done it.” Lots of new Olivias and Jonathans in SteamboatSTEAMBOAT SPIRNGS – Olivias and Jonathans were the top names chosen for newborns last year at Steamboat Springs’ Yampa Valley Medical Center.”J” names were popular for boys in general. After Jonathan the popular names were Joshua, Jeremiah, and Jesse. For girls, “A” names such as Alexis, Andrea, and Arianna were popular.As well, reports The Steamboat Pilot, Western-inspired names were popular: Aspen, Cody, and Dakota, as well as Hac, Shane, and Weston.City traders want to move to resort areasCRESTED BUTTE – A sort of Field of Dreams story is being reported by the Crested Butte News. There, in Gunnison County, elected officials are being lobbied to push expansion of the Internet infrastructure into sparsely settled parts of the county.The improved internet infrastructure, explains the Crested Butte News, would expedite development of home-based businesses.High-speed broadband is currently provided to Gunnison, Crested Butte, and Mt. Crested Butte, as well as some peripheral areas.However, many more isolated outposts do not have broadband. Plus, some in the Crested Butte area hope for a fiber-optic line. Among them is Mark Giganti, who is based in Chicago but would prefer to operate his small trading company in the slope-side town of Mt. Crested Butte.”There are a lot of companies like mine that would move here if the services were available,” he says. “Everybody in trading is trying to move to these smaller communities, and they are all having the same problems I am.”Added Giganti: “You can’t come in here and just start a business like mine right now. But it seems to me that if you build it, they will come.”For that matter, Crested Butte is already thick with part-time people interested in trading, computers and other businesses dependent upon good, Internet access. “I know, because I meet them all on the plane, commuting to other locations,” he said.Jason Swensen, a representative of Internet Colorado, a service provider, is calling for the county to seek economic-development grants. He estimated the cost of installing a fiber-optic line to Crested Butte at $300,000 to $500,000. Jon DeVore, the county manager, suggests the fiber-optic line should be publicly owned.
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