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Dangerous back country conditions prompt warnings

Bonneville County, Idaho and Teton County, Wyoming Sheriff’s Departments are warning anyone who plans to travel into the back country to be aware of extreme avalanche danger and conditions. Two slides completely covered a Bonneville County Parks and Recreation Department trail Thursday. Rapidly changing weather has created conditions where any area with a slope or overhanging snow or ice edges are prone to slides and avalanches. In Jackson, Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said, “This weekend has the potential of being a banner weekend for search and rescue, but I don’t mean in a good way.” He said the avalanche danger is a real threat to skiers or snowboarders. “Many people assume that a groomed trail system is not prone to these types of conditions when they can be just as dangerous as other mountainous and higher elevation areas, said Bonneville County spokesperson Sgt. Bryan Lovell.”Whether you are experienced in winter survival or not, please consider your safety and avoid these dangerous areas.” Whalen said the Search and Rescue Foundation of Teton County has launched a new initiative called “Back Country Zero”. He said the goal is to eliminate all preventable deaths in the back country. “We have a fantastic Search and Rescue team” said Whalen, “but it would be even more fantastic if they did not get called this weekend. Be smart, be safe and don’t be a victim!” Anyone planning to recreate in the back country should have necessary safety gear, including avalanche beacons, extra water and food, appropriate clothing, and GPS system. Travelers should also let someone know exactly where they’re going and when they plan to return. More information about avalanche danger, safety, area conditions, and preparation for winter activity is available here.

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