Slide kills Spackman
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
March 2, 2013
An avalanche killed a Jackson Hole backcountry skier after sweeping him down a steep, narrow chute on Prospectors Mountain in Grand Teton National Park on Friday, park officials said.
Jarad Spackman, 40, died of trauma, Deputy Teton County Coroner Dave Hodges said.
Spackman was with a partner on 11,241-foot Prospectors Mountain around 10:30 or 10:45 a.m. when an avalanche broke above them, Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.
The duo was ascending Apocalypse Couloir, a chute on the mountain’s north face that feeds into Death Canyon, with an eye on descending a nearly adjacent chute, Skaggs said.
The slide carried Spackman about 1,000 vertical feet, the park said in a statement. He was only partially buried by the slide, Skaggs said.
His partner, whom the park identified only as a male, found Spackman and began CPR, officials said. About 15 minutes later he used a cellphone to alert Grand Teton National Park rangers of the avalanche.
Rangers responded via helicopter and retrieved the victim’s body by 3:30 p.m., Skaggs said. Hodges subsequently took possession of the body from the Park Service on Friday afternoon.
The cause of death, Hodges said, was blunt force trauma to Spackman’s back, neck and leg. The nature of his injuries suggested his death was immediate, Hodges said.
“It sounded like when his skiing partner found him he was already dead,” Hodges said.
The partner was uninjured and skied out with park rangers, Skaggs said.
“Our guys are with his partner and have cleared the Death Canyon area, and they’re headed back to park headquarters,” the spokeswoman said at 5 p.m. Friday.
Temperatures at 10:30 a.m. Friday were 25 degrees Fahrenheit at the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center weather station at Rendezvous Bowl, just south of Prospectors Mountain. About 7 inches of snow had fallen in the previous 24 hours at that plot.
A Jackson native, Spackman worked as a real estate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty for 18 years in Jackson alongside his brother Brandon and father Dave.
In 2007, the Spackman family was ranked 37th in the nation for sales volume by The Wall Street Journal. The following year they were ranked 69th in the nation by Real Trends Magazine making the Spackmans the only real estate team in Jackson to be ranked two consecutive years for top sales performance.
Spackman was a board member of the Jackson Hole Land Trust.
He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in international finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1995.
The avalanche center listed the danger above 9,000 feet as “moderate” Friday morning, warning of “pockets of wind slab.
“Increasing temperatures and sunshine will increase the sensitivity of these pockets to human triggers,” the avalanche center’s forecast said at 7 a.m. “Pockets of wind slab up to 20 inches in depth exist and could be triggered by the weight of a single person in steep avalanche starting zones and cliff areas with fresh deposits of wind drifted snow.”
On Thursday, just a day before the fatal slide, a small snowboarder-caused avalanche was reported in Apocalypse Couloir, avalanche center director Bob Comey said.
Comey was familiar with terrain where the fatality occurred.
“Apocalypse Couloir is extreme terrain, even when the hazard is low,” Comey said. “We put out a general avalanche forecast, and it doesn’t apply to terrain like that. Ever. The teeniest little slide could sweep you to your death.
“It’s been identified as a go-to place for extreme skiers, and you know what — it has consequences,” he said.
This marks the second avalanche fatality in Grand Teton National Park this year. An avalanche on Survey Peak in the northern Teton Range killed Nickolas James Gillespie on Jan. 27.
— Lindsay Wood contributed to this story.
This story has been corrected to reflect the proper direction the skiers were traveling, to attribute cause of death to the proper source and to remove a characterization about the size of the avalanche — Eds.