Three skiers were injured after being swept downhill in a 400-foot wide avalanche south of Cooke City on March 24, according to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
A group of six skiers had split into pairs Thursday and simultaneously descended three neighboring avalanche paths on the west side of Woody Ridge, near an area known as K & B’s, the center reported.
About halfway down, the group triggered an avalanche that bridged the three paths. Three skiers were caught and three skiers who watched from safe zones were not caught, the Billings Gazette reported.
One skier was pinned against a tree as the avalanche passed him. The second skier slid into a tree and broke ribs. The third was partially buried with just his arm sticking out of the snow. The group located and unburied all victims within five minutes.
The group performed first-aid and self-evacuated to Cooke City. All members of the group had formal avalanche training, avalanche beacons, shovels, probes and airbags. All three captured skiers successfully deployed their airbags.
Natural slab avalanches were also seen on Sawtooth Mountain near Cooke City and in the Lone Lake Cirque in the backcountry outside Big Sky Ski Resort.
The avalanche danger for southwest Montana was rated moderate.