Thoughts And Prayers Go Out To Big Wally

6 Jan

Jackson Hole ski patroller Mark “Big Wally” Wolling is at St. John’s Medical Center following an avalanche in Cheyenne Bowl this morning.

Wolling was doing avalanche control work when the slide occurred at about 8:30 a.m. He detonated one bomb to the skier’s right of Cheyenne Gully with no result.

He then set two more hand charges on the edge of the cliff band, and their explosion caused the slope to fail above him and his partner.

The partner managed to self-arrest, but Wolling was swept over the cliff and carried some 150 feet to a flat area opposite Bivuoac Woods.

Patrollers located Wolling with a transceiver and dug him out in about 8 to 10 minutes, Patrol Director Jake Elkins said. Wolling was buried beneath 6 feet of debris.

He was not breathing and had no detectable pulse. Patrollers performed CPR and used an AED, which found no shockable rhythm.

However, after being transported to the Teton Village Clinic, about 14 minutes later, doctors detected a pulse.

He was taken by ambulance to St. John’s and may be flown out for care.

A 20-year veteran of the patrol, Wolling, 58, is a beloved figure in the community, having hosted the annual Goatstock party in Wilson for many years. Last fall the event benefited Jimmy Zell, another old-time skier crippled by illness.

If anyone can pull out of this, it’s Big Wally.

Wolling survived a paragliding crash on Snow King Mountain about 10 or 12 years ago and in 2004 dodged a grizzly bear attack on Togwotee Pass.

Asked whether staff were encouraged when Wolling’s pulse revived at the clinic, Elkins called it a “positive sign.”

Tim Mason, resort VP of operations, said, “Any glimmer of hope is better than nothing.”

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