Avalanche deaths are down for Gallatin National Forest

Posted at 2:39 PM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 18:18:11-05

While there have been multiple accidents involving avalanches we haven’t had an avalanche death this year in the Gallatin National Forest.

The Gallatin National Forest which includes the steep slopes of the Gallatin, Madison, Bridgers, Absorka, Beartooths, and Crazy mountain ranges hasn’t seen any avalanche fatalities yet this winter season year, however, the rest of the state isn’t so lucky.

“We have had one pretty close by in the Tobacco Roots, and one up north in Choteau, Montana,” Avalanche Specialist Alex Marienthal said. “In typical years we’ve usually seen a fatality or two within our advisory area. It’s below average but we’re still mid-winter with plenty of snow on the way and avalanches could still catch somebody.”

With weather conditions changing day by day and even hour by hour, this is still a dangerous time of year for backcountry enthusiasts.

“I think there’s plenty of snow and plenty of people going out there and some close calls where people got lucky so we’ve definitely seen a few accidents and people getting caught and sometimes it’s just a matter of getting lucky or not,” Marienthal said

Obviously, nobody ever wants to be caught in an avalanche, but here’s what you need to survive.

“They should travel with partner and both carry avalanche rescue gear including an avalanche beacon which is also called an avalanche transceiver, a shovel, and an avalanche probe which all people in the group need to have that equipment, and know how to use it,” Marienthal added.

Montana is ranked third in the nation in avalanche fatalities and first with snowmobile-related avalanche fatalities. There were four deaths last winter season.

Before heading to the backcountry, check the avalanche website for conditions.

Reporting by Carson Vickroy for MTN News