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Snowmobiler dies in New Year’s Eve avalanche outside Cooke City

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A full view of the Crown Butte slide that killed a snowmobiler on New Year's Eve. COURTESY OF GNFAC

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A snowmobiler from Washington died on New Year’s Eve outside Cooke City after he was buried in an avalanche.

The rider was snowmobiling near Daisy Pass on the south side of Crown Butte with his younger brother when he triggered an avalanche roughly 100 feet from the top, according to a report from the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. The rider was swept 600 feet downhill and buried 5 feet deep.

Both riders had shovels and probes, but neither wore an avalanche beacon. The older brother also had an avalanche airbag pack, which was not deployed, GNFAC reported.

A group of snowmobilers nearby happened upon the slide minutes after it occurred. One rode back to Cooke City for help. More than a dozen people formed probe line, ultimately finding the buried rider an hour later.

GNFAC forecasters said the avalanche broke on a weak layer of snow near the ground. The slide was about 2 to 4 feet deep and 500 feet wide. The accident marked the third avalanche fatality this winter season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks deaths nationally.

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