Jamie Pierre killed in avalanche at Snowbird
It’s only mid-November, and Utah has already experienced its first avalanche fatality of the ski season. Jamie Pierre, a pro skier who was well known in the Snowbird community and the ski world, was killed after being swept away in a slide that took him over a band of cliffs.
According to the Salt Lake County Unified Police Department, Pierre was snowboarding with a friend in Snowbird’s Gad Valley in the South Chute when he triggered the avalanche. Snowbird was not open at the time, and the terrain would be considered uncontrolled backcountry at the time.
The avalanche occurred at approximately 3:13 p.m. The other snowboarder escaped the slide unharmed. According to the Utah Avalanche Center, the snowboarders had no avalanche rescue gear. Pierre and his friend accessed Snowbird via Mount Baldy in Alta. They then traversed to the Gad Valley. Pierre triggered the slide as soon as he dropped in and was carried hundreds of feet through steep rocky terrain, then went over a small cliff band. He came to a stop only partially buried. Rescue was called, and the Snowbird Ski Patrol, along with the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue found that Pierre was deceased.
Pierre is most well known for skiing off a 245-foot cliff near Jackson Hole in 2006, which earned him the world record.
The fatal avalanche wasn’t the only big slide in the Wasatch as the mountains were in an angry mood on Sunday. As high winds and heavy snowfall overloaded a weak layer in the snowpack, at least 12 other avalanches were reported from Alta and Snowbird to the Utah Avalanche Center’s Current Conditions Page including a slide that caused a leg injury. Eagle’s Nest, Gunsight, Catherine’s Pass, Baldy Shoulder, West Rustler, Twin Lakes Pass, Grizzly Gulch and more areas experienced human triggered and natural avalanches.
The Utah Avalanche Center strongly encourages skiers and snowboarders to be vigilant in the backcountry because of a sugary weak layer that is buried under heavier snow and will remain persistent. Another storm is expected to add even more snow on Saturday.