Avalanche claims one

By on December 26, 2013
Mike Kazanjy

Mike Kazanjy

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A 29-year-old man was killed on Pucker Face this afternoon after a slide buried him at about 1:00 p.m. Mike Kazanjy was pronounced dead at the scene at about 1:30 p.m.

Friends, witnesses and ski patrollers responded quickly and locked onto Kazanjy’s transceiver. Kazanjy was dug out but it was too late. Cause of death is pending investigation by the county examiner but Kazanjy is believed to have been killed immediately.

Kazanjy split time between San Francisco and Jackson. Press releases state Kazanjy was snowboarding at the time but several bloggers claim he was strictly a skier – an observation The Planet is inclined to believe.

Pucker Face is a challenging and popular slope just outside the ski boundary of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. So worth it

    December 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    As they say: “Moderate hazard is not a green light. ”

    Date/Time: 12/26/2013 13:00:00
    Path: Pucker Face
    Elevation: 10300 Aspect: E
    Type: SS (soft slab)
    Size: 3 Depth: 48 Trigger: AS (skier)
    1 Fatalities Involved.
    Unknown Age: 0


    “At the mid and upper elevations, backcountry travelers could trigger recently developed wind slabs up to 30 inches deep in steep, wind loaded terrain. Faceted snow persists throughout the snowpack and failure could also occur on these deeper layers with slab depths up to four feet. If skies are mostly clear in the afternoon, these slides may become more susceptible to failure on sunlit aspects. Moderate hazard is not a green light. While the likelihood of triggering these slides is decreasing, the consequences remain high. Evaluate the snow and terrain carefully and identify features of concern. At the lower elevations, the snowpack is mostly stable and avalanches are unlikely.

    Around 30 inches of snow containing three inches of snow water equivalent fell between Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning. Strong westerly to northwesterly ridgetop winds accompanied this snowfall, creating wind slabs on leeward slopes, which lie upon good sliding surfaces and light density snow. Backcountry travelers could trigger these slabs in steep, wind loaded terrain to depths of 30 inches.

    Faceted snow persists throughout the snowpack on a variety of aspects. Recent snowfall has increased the load on these weak layers. If triggered, these slabs could release to the ground with depths of two to four feet.”

  2. So worth it

    December 26, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Piranhas on a Christmas Day feeding frenzy injured some 60 people in the Argentine city of Rosario.

    Name or the river the were swimming in?

    Parana River.

    Some people just can’t put 2 and 2 together.

  3. Chelsea Basler

    December 27, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Mike was a skier not a boarder. Please change that! He would have hated being called that.

  4. Keith

    December 27, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Does that look like a snowboard behind him. Mike was a skier. Oh and “So Worth It” Fuck Off!

  5. History

    December 27, 2013 at 6:02 am

    Fuck Off!

    A friend would have told Mike that when he suggested skiing the face.

    The problem with deaths like theses is that too few people stand up and say that they were making poor choices. They should have known better. Others follow in their path and repeat the whole process. Two deaths and counting.

    Two other members of Kazanjy’s party who were caught in the slide.

    5 local deaths in 2013. Two in December.

    01/27/2013 Nick Gillespie 30 Survey Peak, Teton Range Backcountry Skier
    01/27/2013 Elizabeth Benson 28 Clause Creek, Wyoming Range Backcountry Skier
    03/01/2013 Jarad Spackman 40 Prospector Mountain, Teton Range Ski Mountaineering
    12/26/2013 Rex J. Anderson 39 Upper Palisades Lake Area, Snake River Range Snowmobiler
    12/26/2013 Michael Kazanjy 29 Pucker Face, Teton Range Backcountry Skier

  6. jake

    December 27, 2013 at 8:04 am

    For those saying Kaz was skiing and not snowboarding, that is very interesting because in looking him up on his Facebook page that’s the first thing I noticed. Not one picture of him boarding. Always skis. I was tempted to write “unclear whether the victim was skiing or boarding” but press releases from JHMR and TCSO both claimed “snowboarder.”
    I will make the change.
    Thank you all for the feedback.

  7. Doug

    December 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    This is not a venue to criticize and slander someone who has passed away! You’re an asshole ‘So Worth It’. Family and friends will consult these sights and your conceited and judgmental comments are the last things they need to read. Take your shitty attitude and armchair quarterbacking somewhere else, its not needed here.

    Accidents happen in the mountains, but no one goes out with that intention. You can pretend to ‘So Worth It / History’ , but you will never know the thought process and discussion that each of these deceased mountain enthusiasts put into their decision making. You are just passing judgement without 1st hand info, and doing so in a very poor taste.

    Mountain sports produce some of the most unique and enthusiastic characters I have ever met. People who try to live their lives to the fullest. It is always a shame to lose someone to the mountains, because they tend to be the finest of souls. Don’t criticize right now, but mourn when needed and let this inspire you to live your life to the fullest – and that means something different for each individual out there.

    I’m sorry for the loss. My thoughts are with the friends and family of Mike.

  8. Miles Clark

    December 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I’m sorry about your loss. This is why I urge people to buy a airbag pack for their lived one’s. It will save there lives. Having a airbag pack is the first and only thing you will ever need in the BC. Go pick one up and let them know Miles sent you. Thanks and RIP brother. Sad to see a boarder go.

  9. Just Sayin'

    December 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    No offense Miles but an airbag isn’t the first and only thing one needs in the backcountry.

    And backcountry practitioners, this was an incident not an accident. There is a difference.

  10. dave

    December 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

    please dont take Miles’ advice. an airbag is not all you need. there is no technical device that will substitute for knowledge, experience, respect and good judgement.

  11. question

    December 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Is this the same miles clark that flew w/ Jerry Hance / ABA 2 years ago?

  12. Colleen

    December 28, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Thank you Doug. We loved this young man so much. He was a complete expert and knew what he was doing. He was equipped properly.
    Aunt Colleen

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