3 Caught in Montana Avalanche Today, 1 Partially Buried & Seriously Injured

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An avalanche caught 3 skiers today in the St. Regis Basin near Lookout Pass ski area, Montana at 3pm today.  One was partially buried and seriously injured.  It’s being reported by officials that he suffered a compound fracture (a bone fracture where the bone penetrates the skin) on one of his legs.

It’s believed that the skiers triggered the avalanche.

Two Bear Air, Minearl County Search & Rescue, & Shoshone County Search & Rescue performed the rescue in difficult conditions.  Two of the skiers were extracted by helicopter, then rescue teams returned for the third later in the evening without the helicopter due to bad weather.

The injured skier was airlifted to an ambulance and taken to Shoshone County Medical Center in Kellogg, Idaho.

11″ of new snow was recorded today at Lookout Pass ski area with high winds and the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center issued an “Avalanche Warning” after the incident today.

Avalanche danger was rated at “Moderate” yesterday by the Missoula Avalanche Center and there was no new advisory put out today.  The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center hadn’t updated their avalanche rating for the St. Regis area since January 8th before the avalanche warning was issued this evening.

Map showing the location of Lookout Pass ski area, very near where the avalanche in St. Regis Basin on the MT/ID border.
Map showing the location of Lookout Pass ski area, very near where the avalanche in St. Regis Basin on the MT/ID border.

Details from the Missoula Avalanche Center:

“An avalanche accident occurred today (Wednesday) in the St Regis Basin south of Lookout Pass Ski Area. 3 skiers in the party, 1 person was caught, partially buried and seriously injured. Two Bear Air and Mineral County SAR were able to evacuate the injured person and one other. SAR later evacuated the 3rd person. Lookout Pass received 11″ new snow today with high winds. We will post more details as they become available.

The St. Regis Basin is covered by the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center. When conditions are safe, avalanche specialists will visit the site and gather more detailed information from those involved.

Two Bear Air, Mineral County SAR and Shoshone County SAR are to be commended for this difficult rescue under less than desirable conditions. Thanks to all involved, these 3 will be able ski another day.” – Missoula Avalanche Center

AVALANCHE WARNING for IDAHO PANHANDLE TODAY:

BULLETIN – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE WARNING
FOREST SERVICE – IDAHO PANHANDLE AVLANCHE CENTER
RELAYED BY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPOKANE WA.
3:00 PM PST WED JAN 13, 2016

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE FOREST SERVICE – IDAHO PANHANDLE AVLANCHE CENTER

THE FOREST SERVICE – IDAHO PANHANDLE AVLANCHE CENTER
HAS ISSUED A BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE WARNING.

* TIMING…IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM PST TODAY TO 5 PM PST THURSDAY.

* AFFECTED AREA…THE FORECAST AREA OF THE SELKIRK AND CABINET MOUNTAINS OF BONNER AND BOUNDARY COUNTIES AND THE ST.JOE MOUNTAINS OF SHOSHONE AND KOOTENAI COUNTIES.  AFFECTED AREAS WILL ALSO INCLUDE THE MOUNTAINS OF EASTERN WASHINGTON AND WESTERN MONTANA.

* AVALANCHE DANGER…THE AVALANCHE DANGER FOR THE WARNING AREA WILL RISE TO HIGH TODAY AND TOMORROW.

* REASON…RECENT HEAVY SNOW COMBINED WITH WIND WILL LIKELY CREATE WIDESPREAD AREAS OF UNSTABLE SNOW.  BOTH HUMAN TRIGGERED AND NATURAL AVALANCHES ARE LIKELY ON SLOPES STEEPER THAN ABOUT 30 DEGREES.
A SNOWMOBILER TRIGGERED AVALANCHE TODAY IN THE ST. REGIS BASIN NEAR LOOKOUT PASS RESULTED IN ONE RIDER PARTIALLY BURIED UP TO THEIR NECK. ONE OTHER RIDER SUFFERED A COMPOUND FRACTURE TO THE FEMUR. AS OF 5PM THE RIDERS WERE STILL ONSITE WITH A HELICOPTER RESCUE UNDERWAY.

PRECAUTIONARY / PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…
BACKCOUNTRY TRAVELERS SHOULD STAY OFF OF…AND OUT FROM UNDERNEATH…SLOPES STEEPER THAN 30 DEGREES.  WET SLAB AVALANCHES CAN BE VERY DESTRUCTIVE AND ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO ESCAPE ONCE CAUGHT.  CHOOSE CONSERVATIVE TERRAIN.

CONSULT WWW.IDAHOPANHANDLEAVALANCHE.ORG FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION.

SIMILAR AVALANCHE DANGER MAY EXIST AT LOCATIONS OUTSIDE THE COVERAGE AREA OF ANY AVALANCHE CENTER.  CHECK WWW.AVALANCHE.ORG FOR YOUR CLOSEST AVALANCHE CENTER.  CHECK WWW.FSAVALANCHE.ORG TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO IDENTIFY AVALANCHE HAZARDS.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION…
THIS WARNING DOES NOT APPLY TO SKI AREAS WHERE AVALANCHE MITIGATION MEASURES ARE PERFORMED.


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