Park rangers recovered the body of a backcountry ski mountaineer at the bottom of a couloir on the south aspect of the South Teton Wednesday, February 15, at approximately 6 p.m. The skier is identified as John “Jack” Fields Jr., age 26, a current resident of Jackson, Wyoming.
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call for assistance at approximately 11a.m. Wednesday with a report of a backcountry skier who fell in the area of the Amore Vida Couloir and was not responding via his radio. The three other members of the party remained above the couloir and made the call for help.
Park rangers requested the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter and conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the area. The victim was visually located. The three park rangers on board the helicopter were flown to Snowdrift Lake, and skied and hiked to the scene. Upon arrival at approximately 1:45 p.m. Fields was determined to be deceased. It is believed he died from injuries sustained in the fall. His body was removed via a helicopter long-line operation and transported to the Sawmill Ponds Overlook near the north end of the Moose-Wilson Road. The body was turned over to the Teton County Coroner’s Office.
Fields was in a party of four that had summited the South Teton and planned to ski down via the Amore Vida Couloir. On the approach to the Amore Vida Couloir, Fields fell and slid out of sight from the other individuals. He fell approximately 1,400 vertical feet in an unnamed couloir between Amore Vida Couloir and the southeast face of the South Teton.
As the body was being recovered, the other three individuals in the party waited at a location approximately 1,300 feet below the summit of the South Teton. They waited for snow conditions to improve before ascending back to the summit of the South Teton and making their descent down Garnet Canyon. The party arrived safely at the Taggart Lake Trailhead at 10:30 p.m.
Park rangers report highly variable conditions in the backcountry at this time. Snow can vary from soft and wet surfaces to rock-hard wind slab or breakable crusts with subtle changes in aspect and elevation.