Jackson: Avalanche hits restaurant | VailDaily.com

Jackson: Avalanche hits restaurant

CHEYENNE, Wyo. ” An avalanche struck a lift-top restaurant at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, spilling snow through a back door but not hurting anybody.

The avalanche hit the Bridger Restaurant at the top of the Bridger Gondola around 9:30 a.m. Monday, just two days after an avalanche killed a skier at the resort.

Resort spokeswoman Anna Olson said Monday’s slide happened shortly before the ski area was to open for the day. Some resort employees were in the area at the time but no members of the public.

“An immediate search took place and everyone was accounted for,” Olson said. “The incident is under full investigation.”

She said the ski area was closed until conditions improve.

Those on the scene afterward included Teton County Sheriff Bob Zimmer, who said he saw snow piled up a dozen feet high on the back side of the restaurant, causing the back wall to bow inward. Inside, he said, snow spilled about 30 feet through a back door, scattering tables and chairs.

Zimmer said he was told that two or three resort workers were caught in the avalanche outside.

“One guy had his face and a hand up and they found him right away. The other two or three, they got out right away,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer said he was confident that no one remained buried. He said about 35 search and rescue workers using search dogs hadn’t found anyone.

The Bridger Gondola lifts skiers 2,700 feet up the mountain from the resort base. Olson said ski patrol made a pass Monday morning through a nearby area called the Headwall to check for avalanche danger. She said the ski patrol was about to leave on another avalanche check when the avalanche struck.

She said gondola workers, restaurant employees and ski patrol members were in the area at the time.

Avalanche danger in Jackson Hole and throughout the Rockies has been extreme since a storm dumped heavy snow across the region last week. Olson said ski patrol routinely fires artillery and drops explosives by hand to trigger avalanches during such conditions.

“With this enormous amount of snow in a short period of time, there’s been a lot of avalanche reduction work that’s been taking place,” Olson said.

She said the avalanche that hit the restaurant wasn’t triggered by the ski patrol.

On Saturday, an avalanche killed David Nodine, 31, of Wilson, while he was skiing down an expert trail at the resort. Ski patrollers quickly uncovered Nodine from 8 feet of snow but couldn’t revive him. Another person caught in the avalanche wasn’t injured.

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