Skier Dies At Wyoming’s Grand Targhee Resort After Getting Trapped In Tree Well

A skier died Saturday at Grand Targhee in Alta, Wyoming, after falling headfirst into a dangerous tree well, an area of deep, soft snow created around the base of trees that are easy to fall into, and almost impossible to get out of.

JN
Jake Nichols

February 20, 20242 min read

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A Colorado man is dead after a skiing accident at Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, over the weekend.

William Douglas England, 67, of Lakewood, was killed Saturday when he fell headfirst into a tree well and presumably suffocated.

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the identity of the deceased but could not elaborate on cause of death until further tests are conducted.

England was reportedly skiing with friends through trees between the Silver Jae and Eleanor runs. Friends alerted ski patrol when England did not show up for a base-of-the-hill rendezvous.

Ski patrol personnel found England face down in a tree well where he had fallen and became trapped. England was dug out, but efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

England was pronounced dead at nearby Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs, Idaho.

Tree Wells

“Tree wells” are created after heavy snows around the trunk line of trees. The unconsolidated snow is soft and deep. It often cannot support the body weight of a skier or rider who may come too close to it.

Like quicksand, it can trap a victim, especially if someone falls into the well headfirst.

Self-extrication, especially with skies on, is almost impossible. According to National Ski Areas Association, tree wells top the list of SIS hazards (snow immersion suffocation).

The region was pounded by heavy snowfall beginning Valentine’s Day through the weekend. Last week, the resort reported 2-4 feet of snow from Wednesday to Saturday.

Grand Targhee Resort owner and general manager Geordie Gillett expressed his condolences to England’s friends and family.

He also reiterated the importance of skiing with friends who are watching out for each other. He also suggested people wear a beacon and carry a small avalanche shovel even when skiing inbounds.

Gillett added that everyone at the resort has been hit hard by the tragic news.

It is not the first fatality at Grand Targhee Resort, but it is the first this season, and the first inbounds skier death in the greater Teton region.

Other skiers have died at the resort after impacting trees.

Jake Nichols can be reached at: Jake@CowboyStateDaily.com

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Jake Nichols

Features Reporter