An avalanche killed a snowmobiler in Swede Creek in the Whitefish Range of Montana on Saturday.
3 snowmobilers were caught in the avalanche, 2 were buried, 1 was able to self rescue. They two survivors then dug out the 3rd, fully buried snowmobiler, but he was deceased. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
The deceased is a 33-year-old man from Kalispell, MT. His body was recovered on Sunday.
The avalanche is reported to have been 2.5-5 feet deep, 200 feet wide, on a 35º slope.
There have been 14 avalanche deaths in the USA this winter. There have been 11 avalanche deaths in January and 8 in just the last week. This January is on track to have the most avalanche deaths in one month since 2001. This year’s total may rise when two currently missing people are determined to have died form avalanches. A doctor at Hatcher Pass AK, a ski instructor at Donner Pass, CA.
In 2014/15, the USA only saw 11 avalanche deaths. We’ve surpassed that number and it’s only January.
Please be careful out there.
Flathead County Sheriff’s Office Report:
“On Saturday, 1-23-16 The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a fatal avalanche that occurred near Swede Creek in the Whitefish mountain range near Olney. Three snowmobilers were riding together when one of them triggered the avalanche. 2 of the individuals were buried, and one was able to self-extricate. The survivors were able to locate the third individual with the help of an avalanche transceiver. He was dug out, but was deceased. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, so the survivors rode out for help. The deceased is a 33 year old Kalispell area man. His name is being held pending notification of next of kin. Due to poor weather…and darkness his body was not recovered until today. He was located and recovered by helicopter this morning.”
– Flathead County Sheriff’s Office
Flathead Avalanche Center Report:
“Preliminary information based on the site visit and through talking with members of the party involved reveals that the avalanche was triggered by the second snowmobiler riding down the slope. The avalanche was measured to be approximately 200 feet wide and the crown depth ranged from 2.5 feet to nearly 5 feet deep at its deepest part. The avalanche ran approximately 200 vertical feet and the debris accumulated in a gully at the bottom of the slope.The avalanche debris was around 5 feet deep. The average slope angle was approximately 35 degrees. The aspect was southeast and was a cross-loaded slope. The avalanche slid on a layer of weak, faceted snow beneath the January 12th rain crust. ”
– Flathead Avalanche Center