(MTN News-HELENA) Since January 16th, 2016, 10 people have been killed by avalanches in the United States.  This is the highest number of avalanche fatalities in January since 2001.

In this week’s Weather Wise report, a local ski report feverishly works at monitoring and mitigating their avalanche danger.

Skiing, fun times, and avalanches are a reality at Teton Pass Ski Resort near Chouteau, MT.

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“Here along the Rocky Mountain Front we have continental snowpack that is shallow, cold, and harbors weak layers all season long.  We have persistent problems up here, out of bounds, but we constantly monitor and keep tabs on it to protect our customers,” said Teton Pass Mountain Manager Charles Hilavac.

Protecting those customers begins in October with the first snows by monitoring the snowpack as it develops.  “Weak layers” of snow are not very cohesive layers that have a tendency to slide when someone or something like a snowmobile adds extra force, breaking what little friction exists.  As the snow piles up, ski patrol will throw hand charges and an avalauncher that shoots explosives into the snowpack, triggering avalanches.

After all of the avalanche control work, anyone going backcountry are required to sign out with ski patrol, have a partner, becon, shovel, probe, and know how to use these tools.




Reporter: Curtis Grevenitz