BOZEMAN – According to Sheriff’s Incident Commander Deputy Mark Hernandez a 35-year old male from Bozeman, skiing the back country triggered an avalanche that pulled him 50 feet down-slope before he managed to get himself out. That avalanche triggered a far larger, secondary avalanche that slid 1,000 feet down the mountainside.
Two other skiers in the area saw the second slide, spotted a set of ski tracks that abruptly ended at the beginning of the first slide and called 9-1-1. More than two dozen Gallatin County Search and Rescue personnel responded to the report of a skier caught in an avalanche Sunday afternoon in the Saddle Peak area, south of Bridger Bowl.
Rescue, snowmobilers and search dogs staged the main parking lot of Bridger Bowl to begin a search when they found out the skier was okay.
GCSO officials also learned that another late season, backcountry skier, was caught in a slide in the Fairy Lake area Saturday. The skier was not seriously injured.
“The Bridger Mountain range received 43 inches of snow in the past 24 hours,” said Deputy Hernandez. “While that might be tempting for skiers, the snow is heavy, wet and unstable. A very bad combination. Today we were lucky, nobody was hurt or worse. Late season skiers need to keep those conditions in mind.”
Sheriff Gootkin reminds back-country enthusiasts that they should never travel alone and that having an avalanche beacon with them is vital. It’s also important to let folks know where you intend to ski and when you expect to be back, he said.