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Tragic Season of Skier/Snowboarder Avalanche Deaths Continues

A man died following an avalanche Thursday afternoon on Togwotee Mountain, Wyoming

The Teton County Wyoming Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call around noon saying an avalanche had happened near Two Ocean Mountain and Wind River Lake in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Veteran snowboarder and climber Michael McKelvey, 31, was with a group in the area, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. After hitting a jump and landing on a northeast-facing slope, the snow collapsed and caused an avalanche which buried McKelvey in three metres of snow.

Members of McKelvey’s party used an avalanche probe and were able to locate him in part because of his avalanche beacon. He was unresponsive and group members began life-saving measures, officials say. Teton County Search and Rescue, along with Grand Teton Park employees, arrived and McKelvey was transported from the scene via a long-line.

Jackson-based McKelvey, originally from Pennsylvania, was taken by ambulance to Jackson Hole Airport where he was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. “The Teton County Sheriff’s Office is saddened by this event and offers their condolences to McKelvey’s family and friends,” a news release says.

This was the second fatal avalanche in Wyoming within the past 24 hours. A Michigan man died after a group of snowmobilers became caught in an avalanche Wednesday afternoon in the Squaw Creek Drainage southeast of Alpine.

Over the past month, there have been over a dozen avalanche deaths of experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders. Last week, Squamish climber Dave Henkel, 45, was killed after getting caught in the Poop Chutes in Whister, read more about the accident here.

The week before that, top Italian climber and skier Carlalberto “Cala” Cimenti, 45, and his partner Patrick Negro, died in an avalanche near Cima del Bosco in Italy. Read more about the accident here. And in early February, eight highly exererienced skiers died in avalanches in Colorado and Utah, read about it here.

Always check avalanche conditions before heading out here.