Search Under Way in Tetons for Missing Columbia Falls Skier

By Beacon Staff

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Rescue teams in Grand Teton National Park searched in deep snow Tuesday to look for two men who planned to climb, ski and camp in a canyon where avalanches have been occurring.

A helicopter search Monday evening found no sign of Walker Kuhl, 30, of Salt Lake City, or Gregory Seftick, 31, of Columbia Falls, Mont. The men left Saturday and were supposed to return Sunday but were reported missing after Kuhl didn’t show up at work Monday.

Four teams of four people each headed out on skis Tuesday and more helicopter flights were planned, park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.

Meanwhile, park rangers spoke with relatives of the missing men to learn more about their abilities and plans.

“They do have some skills, some training, some experience and also supposedly some gear with them,” Skaggs told The Associated Press.

The search, first reported by the Jackson Hole News & Guide, focused on Garnet Canyon on the east side of Middle Teton.

Poor weather prevented Monday’s search flight from going higher than Spalding Falls at the head of the canyon. There, the searchers saw signs that avalanches had occurred. Up to 25 feet of snow has piled up in the canyon this winter, a banner season for snowfall in the Tetons.

Avalanche danger in the Tetons was rated moderate Tuesday, meaning people risked triggering avalanches in certain terrain, according to the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center.

The risk was rated considerable over the weekend, however, meaning people in the backcountry were likely to trigger avalanches and that naturally releasing avalanches were possible.

Searchers were on the lookout for a tent or climbing gear. They also planned to look for signals from avalanche beacons the men may have had with them, Skaggs said.

Rangers found two cars belonging to the men at a trailhead.

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