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Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393
Grand Teton National Park rangers, with assistance from a Teton County Search and Rescue (SAR) contact helicopter and crew, initiated a search at first light Thursday morning, March 8, for two skiers who failed to return on Wednesday evening from a backcountry trip to Ranger Peak in the northern Teton Range. Chris Onufer, of Jackson, Wyoming, and a ski companion were reported overdue late Wednesday, March 7.
Upon receiving word of the possibly overdue skiers, park rangers made a sweep of trailhead parking lots at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday and found a vehicle associated with the overdue party at Colter Bay, 10 miles north of Moran Junction. At 6 a.m. Thursday, rangers and Teton Co. SAR staff held a briefing and began preparations for an aerial reconnaissance flight to Ranger Peak to begin searching for the backcountry skiers.
The ship launched from a temporary helibase on the eastshore of Jackson Lake at Colter Bay at 8:40 a.m. and shortly after located a large avalanche debris field on the slope of Ranger Peak. At 8:48 a.m., searchers aboard the helicopter picked up positive hits from two avalanche beacons.
The helicopter returned to the helibase at Colter Bay and picked up three rangers, who were then flown to the avalanche debris field to begin a physical search of the area using probe poles.
The avalanche danger was listed as moderate on Wednesday afternoon, and low on Thursday morning, according to the Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche center.