A 24-year-old man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who died in an avalanche Thursday while in Lincoln County is this year’s second reported snowmobiling fatality in Wyoming.
Alex Balestrieri was killed when he was caught in an avalanche while snowmobiling with four other people in the Poker Flats area near Smoot, about 60 miles from Jackson Hole, according to reports from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
When a large section of snow gave way, Balestieri slid into a creek and was buried, the sheriff’s office reported. It’s thought his snowmobile triggered the avalanche. None of the other people with him were hurt.
Danger Still Extreme
No further details about the accident were available early Tuesday, sheriff’s office Capt. Brian Andrews told Cowboy State Daily. However, avalanche danger remains extreme after nearly unprecedented levels of snowfall in Lincoln County.
“This is probably one of the biggest snowfalls we’ve ever had in the back county,” he said.
The area frequently draws snowmobilers from all over the U.S., Andrews added.
To make matters worse, fresh, soft snow has continued to fall on top of hardened base layers, making avalanches even more likely, he said.
Previous Fatality, Close Call
The first reported snowmobiling death in Wyoming this year was that of noted fitness guru Travis Just, 46, of Tampa, Florida. He perished in what Albany County authorities described as a single-snowmobile “crash” in the Snowy Range Mountains near Centennial on Feb. 4.
The Snowy Range is also known across the country as a premier destination for snowmobilers, and likewise has seen massive snowfall so far this winter.
Josh Bedard, a seasoned sledder and certified snowmobile guide from southwest Minnesota, told Cowboy State Daily that his son Ethan, 17, was nearly buried in a snow slide in the Snowy Range on January 31. He warned that conditions are ripe for avalanches in the Snowies and urged riders to be cautious.