Early season skiing and snowboarding has officially begun in North America. While a coat of fresh snow is always a welcome sight, serious dangers can lurk underneath. Such was the case this past weekend when a group of three skiers in Montana found themselves in the midst of an October avalanche!
The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center was forced into action on Sunday, October 28th when a group of skiers ascending the northern Bridger Range triggered an avalanche. The three men were in the process of skinning uphill on a south-facing slope located south of Frazier Basin. According to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center’s report, the skiers began to feel the slope collapse, and before they could even think to react a loud “whumph” sound was heard as the snow above them gave way – sweeping them all the way to the bottom.
Fortunately, the three victims were only partially buried up to their chests. One skier suffered a deep knee laceration and injury to his hip – with the other two left relatively unscathed, albeit extremely shaken up. They were able to call in the Gallatin County Search and Rescue at around 3:30pm.
While this story concludes with a happy ending, skiers and snowboarders seeking their first taste of powder this season must be vigilant of their surroundings. There has not been enough snowfall or time for a significant base to form in backcountry areas. The snowpack can easily give way and slide off. Those planning on embarking upon a trip to the backcountry must follow established safety practices, which includes only travelling on at a time and equipping proper avalanche safety gear.
Ski safe everyone!
Photos courtesy of The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center