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First Avalanche Incident Of 2015 Season

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[leadin]Once there is snow in the mountains, backcountry users must consider avalanche risks. Even in November.[/leadin]


Two men hunting were caught in a slide on Thursday. They were hiking near the saddle of Sacajawea Peak (also spelled “Sacagawea”) in the Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman, Mont.

According to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, the hunters were on the shoulder of the peak to the north (often referred to as Hardscrabble) at 9,000 feet elevation when they triggered an avalanche that broke 40 – 50 feet wide and 20 feet above them. They were carried 400 vertical feet (measured by their GPS) over a series of rocks.

Sacajewea Bowl
Photo source: Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center

One hunter was injured, knocked unconscious during the slide. After he came to, the duo self-evacuated. The injured hunter was evaluated and released from a hospital.

Avalanche Season 2015/16

A series of storms dropped more than a foot of snow in areas across the West this week. With it skiers and snowboarders are excited to get in some turns this weekend. It’s important to remember: If there’s enough snow to ski, there is enough to slide.

Big Sky recorded 20" of snow on Wednesday.
Big Sky recorded 20″ of snow on Wednesday

Early season avalanches may not be as common as those later in the year, but those that happen are often full of rocks and debris, making even small events quite dangerous.

According to the Colorado Information Center, about 10 percent of the state’s fatal avalanches happen in November.

Get some great turns this weekend, but remember: Make good decisions out there and stay safe. There’s a long season ahead.

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