2 die in pair of avalanches in Wyoming


Two avalanches that hit within hours of each other killed a skier and a snowmobile rider this past week in Wyoming.

Michael Kazanjy, 29, of Santa Ana, Calif., was buried under 4 feet of snow at about 1 p.m. Thursday while skiing at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort with five friends, Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center officials wrote in an avalanche fatality report.

Kazanjy, “the first skier who ventured onto a very steep, unsupported slope,” triggered the avalanche, the report said.

Another skier “quickly located and uncovered” Kazanjy but not in time to save his life. The incident occurred at an elevation of about 10,300 feet on an east-facing slope called the Pucker Face.

Kazanjy was a University of California at Berkeley graduate who studied economics and public policy, according to his Facebook page. Many of his profile pictures showcase his love of the outdoors, with some images of him skiing or holding a mountain bike.

Elsewhere, near the Idaho border, 39-year-old Rex J. Anderson, of Arco, Idaho, met a similar fate that same day at 2:45 p.m., center officials reported.

Anderson, who was snowmobiling, was the fourth person in his group of friends to ride down a steep slope on the McNeely Cove Waterfall Canyon Zone path.

The group was at an elevation of 9,500 feet when the avalanche, which was an estimated 100 yards across and about 350 yards long, killed Anderson.

“He was caught, buried and quickly uncovered by companions but did not survive,” the report said.

On Thursday, the Teton Area Avalanche Forecast suggested moderate avalanche danger between 7,500 and 10,500 feet both in the morning and in the afternoon.

“At the mid- and upper elevations, back country travelers could trigger recently developed wind slabs up to 30 inches deep in steep, wind-loaded terrain,” the center said.

“While the likelihood of triggering these slides is decreasing, the consequences remain high. Evaluate the snow and terrain carefully and identify features of concern.”

Kazanjy and Anderson were the first avalanche deaths in Wyoming since Jarad Spackman, 40, died March 1.