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Contact: Jackie Skaggs, 307.739.3393
April 23, 2011
The search for Walker Pannell Kuhl, age 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah and Gregory Seftick, age 31, of Columbia Falls, Montana resumed today, Saturday, April 23 in Grand Teton National Park. Kuhl and Seftick began an overnight camping and skiing trip one week ago, and were reported missing on Monday, April 18, when Kuhl failed to show up for work. This marks the sixth day for a concentrated search to locate the missing skiers.
A high pressure system brought sunny skies and calm winds this morning, creating perfect weather conditions to continue search operations. Four K9 search and rescue teams from nearby Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, and more than 35 search and rescue personnel were airlifted from a helispot on the Teton Park Road (elevation 6,685 feet) into a high elevation helispot in Garnet Canyon (9,500 feet) near the base of Nez Perce Peak to begin another full day of combing through a large avalanche debris field. A broad snowfield on the north face of Nez Perce gave way sometime after Friday, April 15, and the resulting avalanche path covers Garnet Canyon Meadows where it is presumed that the two men may be found. The avalanche debris field is approximately 200 feet wide, 200-300 yards long and 15 feet deep.
Grand Teton National Park rangers again enlisted the assistance of trained rescue personnel and support staff from Teton County Search and Rescue, Teton Interagency Fire, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, Wyoming K9 Search and Rescue, and Grand Targhee Resort ski patrol and K9 teams, as well as experienced professional mountaineers from Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and Exum Mountain Guides (two park concession companies) to provide the best possible and most complete exploration of the snow-covered area where Kuhl and Seftick may be located.
Local weather forecaster Jim Woodmency, who joined the search effort today, reminded the search teams that over three feet of new snow has fallen on the Teton Range over the past week. Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center has recorded 661 inches of snowfall at the Raymer snow plot (elevation 9,300 feet) so far this winter. The Tetons receive an average of 400 inches of snowfall per year.
Further information about today's search effort will be available after individual teams return to the incident command center near park headquarters at day's end.