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    Grand Teton

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Rangers Recover Bodies of Missing Backcountry Skiers

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Date: March 8, 2012
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431

Grand Teton National Park rangers have recovered the bodies of two local and expert backcountry skiers who were the focus of a search and rescue mission on Thursday morning, March 8. Chris Onufer and Steve Romeo, both of Jackson, Wyoming, were buried by a large avalanche sometime Wednesday, March 7. The avalanche initiated near the summit of the 11,355-foot Ranger Peak in the northern end of the Teton Range; it ran to the base of the peak, depositing a large debris field in Waterfalls Canyon.

During an aerial reconnaissance flight rangers picked up two positive beacon hits at 8:48 a.m. from the debris field. Seven rangers were flown to the area to begin a physical search of the debris field using probe poles. Rangers reached the first body around 11:45 a.m. and second around Noon.

A Teton County Search and Rescue (SAR) contact helicopter and crew assisted in the search and rescue mission, and Teton Interagency helitack personnel assisted with the temporary helibase established at the Colter Bay swim beach on the eastshore of Jackson Lake.

The avalanche danger was listed as moderate on Wednesday afternoon, and low on Thursday morning, according to the Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche center.  

Did You Know?

Close-up of a lodgepole pine cone

Did you know that lodgepole pine trees grow on glacial moraines in Jackson Hole? Glacial moraines are ridges of rocky debris left behind as Ice Age glaciers melted. The soil on these ridges retains moisture and is more hospitable to trees than the cobbly, porous soil on the outwash plain.