November 13, 2011
— John Clary Davies
Professional skier Jamie Pierre died today in an avalanche at Snowbird, Utah.
The 38-year-old triggered the avalanche at 2:30 p.m. while snowboarding in the South Chute in Gad Valley. The slide swept Pierre off a cliff, while his partner was uninjured. Pierre likely died from trauma, as the avalanche did not bury him. The ski area is closed and not conducting avalanche control until next weekend.
The Utah Avalanche Center reported the depth of the soft slab was 14 inches to 20 inches and ran 150-feet wide. According to the UAC site, neither Pierre nor his partner carried rescue gear or had formal avalanche training.
“Make no doubt that conditions are ripe for someone to get caught in an avalanche,” UAC forecaster Brett Kobernik said on the center's website. “The combination of higher density snow and gusty wind were the perfect combo for slab formation over our preexisting weak early season snow.”
The avalanche was not an isolated event. According to the UAC website, skiers reported 12 human triggered avalanches today. According to the UAC report, the terrain in South Chute is northwest facing and likely held rotten snow from October.
In 2006 Pierre set a record for the highest cliff jump — a 255-foot drop near Grand Targhee — for the TGR film Anomaly. Watch the footage in the above clip. Pierre filmed with TGR from 2000 to 2008. He also has appearances in films by Warren Miller Entertainment, Level 1 Productions, Matchstick Productions and Rage films.
The longtime Salt Lake skier had recently relocated to Big Sky, Montana, where he was going to be an ambassador for Moonlight Basin this season.