Kalispell Man Killed in Avalanche in Glacier Park

Two backcountry skiers were descending Stanton Mountain when avalanche was triggered

A 36-year-old Kalispell man was killed Thursday in an avalanche while backcountry skiing on Stanton Mountain in Glacier National Park, officials confirmed.

Authorities have not released the name of the victim pending notification of next of kin.

According to Lauren Alley, public information officer at Glacier National Park, 911 dispatchers received a report from the victim’s skiing companion at approximately 3:15 p.m. The companion, speaking by mobile phone, told dispatchers that his partner had been partially buried in a large avalanche on the south-facing aspect of Stanton Mountain and was severely injured. The companion warmed the victim and provided medical care while awaiting the emergency response. According to Alley, a third skier was below the other two and away from the avalanche path.

Two Bear Air, a privately owned search and rescue helicopter, responded to the incident while the ALERT Air Ambulance staged at the base of Stanton Mountain, on the north end of Lake McDonald. Park rangers also mobilized a ground search in the event the air rescue was unsuccessful.

Jim Pierce, chief pilot for Two Bear Air, said the helicopter crew arrived on the scene around 4 p.m. and extracted the victim from his location approximately 500 yards below the summit.

“It was a pretty big avalanche,” Pierce said.

Pierce said the victim was conscious and responsive but had experienced severe trauma.

The man was pronounced dead during the course of the rescue operation.

The skiing companion was not caught in the slide and spent “a considerable amount of time” searching for the victim, eventually locating him by voice, Alley said.

Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said the avalanche broke off near the top of the mountain and the victim died of injuries that were the result of severe trauma.

Curry said he would release the victim’s name Friday morning.

Avalanche danger on Thursday was rated as moderate in southern Glacier Park at elevations above 5,000 feet, according to the Flathead Avalanche Center.

Both skiers were experienced and equipped with safety gear including probes, shovels, beacons and helmets.

In the coming days, Glacier Park officials will coordinate with the Flathead Avalanche Center to investigate the sequence of events that triggered the avalanche and caused the fatality, Alley said.

  • Vickie Schlegel

    Prayers and condolences to his family. So, so sad.

    • Jami Erickson

      Very sad. It doesn’t seem real. Love and prayers to his family and friends.

  • Ron Fisher

    Sad, yes but also stupid given the powder snow all over the valley/mountains. One has to use common sense an avoid back country skiing totally. With this very cold temps, some small level of being informed about snow slides on trails that are not part of a regular program leads to a death like this that could have been prevented with a small dose of simple…Hay skiing partner its not safe lets go ice fishing/mall etc…??

    • Montana

      Before you post a judgement comment of someone’s “stupid” decision please think of who may be reading this. There are a lot of should’ve, would’ve, could’ve in life but the fact of the matter is this man has left a wife, kid, mother and many friends and community member that have looked up to him and are hurting immensely. Have some compassion when posting publicly.

    • Aron Kate Haire

      A man lost his life doing something he loves. The only “stupid” thing here is your comment. Why don’t you use a little “common sense” and show some respect for the deceased, rather than issuing a smug, know-it-all comment that benefits nobody.

    • Colonel Tim McKernan

      Ron, your post is highly insensitive to this man’s grieving family and friends. It would have been one thing to say something like, “Sadly, this is a reminder of the danger of backcountry skiing.” But you instead insult a dead man’s judgement. Not only that, it portrays you as an uneducated person. Please go back to elementary school, where this time you might learn proper spelling, punctuation, and grammer. And a trip or two to church might teach you about compassion.

      • Maria Folsom

        It’s “grammar.”

        • Colonel Tim McKernan

          Thank you for pointing that out.

        • Colonel Tim McKernan

          Also, you should have used a comma after, “It’s” Maria.

        • Dawn Wilson Brown

          Really Grammar police? On a post about a man who lost his life? Maybe spend more time focusing on developing empathy rather than correcting grammar.

    • Dawn Wilson Brown

      This is a very insensitive comment. A man lost his life, a family lost one of their own. The community is grieving and you post this self-righteous, judgmental comment. Wow!

  • Nancy G Standon


  • Ron Fisher

    Some of the comments about what I said, sure miss the mark. Would you nay sayers allow a friend to drive drunk, would you get in a car with a known bad driver whose car has bald tires, have any of you helped a stranger who had too much to drink an would not allow them to drive…speaking up rather than being sheep this fine young man would/could still be here to experience the snow & thrills.

    • Colonel Tim McKernan

      Why do your friends allow you to post such stupid, insensitive comments? You make no point other than showing you have no empathy for a grieving family. May karma become your best friend.

  • You might wait a bit to dissect this incident until the GNP or USFS issues a detailed report of the conditions involved: snowpack, avy hazard rating, route selected, travel style and precautions and a host of other factors that go into the complex, but inexact, science of outdoor winter rec.

    At present, seems to me there is so little known about the incident, it is difficult, if not impossible for thoughtful discussion. Each one of these incidents is a cause for pause, reflection and to deconstruct the incident, so we can learn from it and add to our knowledge base for safer winter rec.

    If the identity I heard disclosed informally is correct, the decedent was pretty experienced and skilled, I’ve been out with him a few times.

    More info is needed before any thoughtful discussion can occur on this one.