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JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — An avalanche in northwest Wyoming that killed two men and injured one other involved snow only a few inches deep, according to one of the skiers involved.
The avalanche on Sunday occurred on Mount Moran's Sickle Couloir in Grand Teton National Park, catching a party of four skiers off guard.
The narrow stream of snow hit the four men at an elevation of about 9,900 feet, killing 39-year-old Luke Lynch of Jackson.
Another Jackson Hole man — Stephen Adamson Jr., 42 — died Tuesday night at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, hospital spokesman Nathan Miller said.
A third suffered leg and chest injuries.
Zahan Billimoria, an experienced local guide, was the only member of the party who wasn't swept away. He escaped injury.
"It was a small volume of snow," Billimoria said. "But they were gone. I looked over and they were gone."
While they climbed up Sickle Couloir there were no signs of any danger, Billimoria said. All used either whippet ski poles or ice axes and wore crampons and helmets.
"There had not been a hint of spindrift or sluff or any snow movement at all," Billimoria told the Jackson Hole News and Guide reports (http://bit.ly/1EXK4PW). "There were, as I can determine, no warning signs."
There was a "very firm bed surface" of snow with "1 to 2 centimeters" of fresh snow on top, he said.
The group was taking a break when the avalanche occurred.
"Before we were able to take our packs off, I heard a dull sound coming from above," Billimoria said. "As I looked up, 30 feet above me is my estimate, I saw a small stream of snow — like snowballs rolling down toward us."
Billimoria said he barely had time to warn his friends and step to the left before the other three were swept about 500 feet down the mountain.
"I stepped one step to the left," Billimoria said. "Immediately I feel and see this stream of snow start to pour over my right boot, but it doesn't hit the left. It was less than the top of my boot."
"I think it wasn't much wider than the breadth of our group," he said. "But it's May, so it's strong snow — it's snowball snow."
Billimoria scrambled down to assist his partners.
He discovered Lynch did not have a pulse and was not breathing. Chest compressions failed to revive him.
Billimoria said all three of his ski mountaineering partners were "avid, astute, detail-oriented" mountain adventurers familiar with the Tetons. The party had done its diligence prior to the ascending the 12,605-foot Mount Moran, he said.
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com
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