Tag Archives: Jenny Lake Rangers

Surviving the Spoon

The hard lessons of surviving an avalanche in the Tetons

The sky was dark and the air crisp on the morning of February 4 as we skinned toward the Spoon Couloir in Grand Teton National Park. Moving along in meditative unison, my mind began to wander to the events of the past two weeks. A lifelong friend, Darren Johnson, had died in an avalanche while patrolling at the Yellowstone Club on January 19th. This massive loss had ripped a hole in my soul and I was heading into the mountains to repair the damage. I could have never imagined that later in the day I would nearly suffer the same fate as my dear friend……

Click here for the amazing story posted on Powder.com!

Dar doing what he loved in the summer...being a man's man!
Dar doing what he loved in the summer…being a man’s man! – 2012
The helicopter landing at the Sawmill Ponds parking area (photo: TCSAR)

Be safe out there and as always, Keep on Adventuring!

Spoon Couloir Avalanche Recovery

Hello All,

I am writing on the 8 week anniversary of an avalanche in the Spoon Couloir, off Disappointment Peak, that nearly killed me.  As many of you know, I was airlifted from Amphitheater Lake by a TCSAR’s helicopter with the expert pilot, Nicole Ludwig at the helm.  The  Jenny Lake Rangers were incident commanders on the rescue and rangers Case Martin and Jim Martin were the professionals on scene. They performed the extraction from the lake in a matter of minutes and were nothing short of amazing.  These two groups are absolutely essential to our community and you should all donate to their causes (TCSAR and Jenny Lake Rangers) to ensure they will act on a moments notice when you are at your most vulnerable point.


After being admitted to St. John’s Medial Center, I had the privilege of having Dr. Heidi Jost as the surgeon who repaired my broken leg. As it turned out, my tibia was broken into 22 pieces and she did an exceptional job putting everything in place and giving  me the opportunity for a full recovery.  I spent a total of four nights in the hospital, including Super Bowl Sunday, where I “hosted” one of the more expensive four person “party’s” ever.




I have been on the mend since, but it is a slow process.  I am suffering from significant PTSD, but making progress moving-albeit at a snails pace.  I recently was able to get into a pool and practice putting weight on my leg.  Since I have been on crutches and non-weight bearing for the past two months, it was a very strange sensation.  Despite the pain,  the slight movement was exhilarating.  For someone who craves physical activity, the stillness of this recovery has been a huge challenge.  Simply being able to move under my own power brought a rare smile to my face.

Powder.com is going to be posting the full account of my experience here on Tuesday April 5th.  I will also have an extended version of the article on OutdoorBeta with additional photos.  It will share many lessons learned and give everyone an insight into the experience of nearly perishing in an avalanche.  Those of us fortunate to live in mountain towns have all heard of people losing their lives in avalanches-doing what they love, but we never think it can happen to us.  I can say for certain that I have never heard a story like the one I am going to tell.  I hope you all take a moment to read the article, share it with all your friends and let it  sink fully into your soul.  I was once someone who thought this could never happen to me, but here I am, alive and able to tell my story.

Most importantly, I want to thank my loving girlfriend Zelie Dunn-Morrison and my friends and family for coming to my aid during this trying time in my life.  One might think that surviving a near-death experience would be the hardest part of the process, but the emotional impact has been eye-opening.  The struggle, anguish and frustration an event like this has on your soul and those around you has been hard to comprehend.  Without all of you: Dane Etter-Garrette, Beau Etter-Garrette, Maureen Garrette, Diane Johnson, Brian Close, Mike Bessette, Tyler MacPhie, Tristan Droppert, Danny Filice, Ben and Kate Shanks, Lexie Hunsaker, Brian Donner, Brian Collins, Chase Sandbloom, Paco, Casey and Tom Kalishman, Bill and Lannie Hoglund, Victor Morrison and Patty  Dunn, Braden Masselink and many others, I would not be here today moving forward to live another day.  I love and thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

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