Avalanche fatalities rise to three for season

Avalanche fatalities
Crown Butte Avalanche photo: GNF

New Year’s Eve proved deadly for a Washington State man who was trapped in a fatal avalanche near Cooke City Montana.

The avalanche occurred near Daisy Pass on a southeast facing slope on Crown Butte at 9,800’. Two men were snowmobiling uphill on separate slopes. The snow on the steeper slope was triggered and the avalanche started 100-200’ below the top.

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The slide carried the 21-year-old 600 vertical feet and he was buried under 5 feet of snow.

Avalanche victim not wearing beacon

Despite both riders had shovels and probes, they were not equipped with avalanche beacons.

Although the buried rider was found wearing an airbag rescue pack, it had not been deployed.

A nearby group of riders rode up to the slide within minutes after it happened and began to search for the rider. Cooke City Search and Rescue was alerted. The buried rider was located with a probe line an hour after the avalanche happened.

Despite CPR and the use of defibrillators, he perished at the site.

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center  said the avalanche appeared to be 2-4′ deep, 500′ wide, 600′ vertical, and broke on weak snow near the bottom of the snowpack.

Colorado has two avalanche fatalities this season

A separate incident in Colorado on New Year’s Eve took the life of a backcountry skier outside Breckenridge Ski Resort.

A father and son had exited the gate at the resort and encountered an avalanche which partially buried the father. He was unable to locate his son.

The Summit County Rescue Group, Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and members of the Breckenridge Ski Patrol responded to the scene.

An avalanche rescue dog team found the missing skier, who did not survive.

These incidents mark the second and third avalanche deaths of this winter season. The first was on December 26th on Berthoud Pass, Colorado when a member of a backcountry tour was buried and did not survive.

Make sure you check current avalanche conditions before heading out to recreate in the snow. Go to https://bridgertetonavalanchecenter.org.