Snowmobiler Killed in Avalanche, Another Injured in Separate Incident

Fatal slide occurred on the Flathead National Forest just beyond the Teton Pass Ski Area

By Tristan Scott

An avalanche in Waldron Creek west of Choteau on Jan. 5 buried and killed a snowmobiler who was not wearing a beacon, the Flathead Avalanche Center reported.

The fatal avalanche occurred on the Flathead National Forest just beyond the Teton Pass Ski Area.

According to the Flathead Avalanche Center’s preliminary report, another snowmobiler unintentionally triggered the avalanche. The snowpack failed 1 to 5 feet deep on a faceted crust layer near the ground. It was a hard slab, roughly 2,000 feet wide and “large enough to destroy a car or wood frame house.”

Two riders were caught, one was injured and one buried two feet deep.

“Unfortunately, the buried rider was not wearing a beacon and did not survive,” according to the report.

Also on Jan. 5, a group of motorized snow bikers was stopped on top of Spring Slide Mountain in the southern Swan Range to take pictures and check maps. 

A large cornice broke beneath one of the riders, which subsequently triggered several thick slab avalanches in very steep, rocky and cliffy terrain.

The slides appeared to be persistent slabs. 

The rider fell 200 feet over cliff bands and was carried another 100 feet down the slope and buried. His partners were able to dig him out, but he suffered numerous serious injuries. 

Two Bear Air rescued the victim, who is currently recovering from surgery. 

For more information visit flatheadavalanche.org.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.