Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1998-11-15
Submitted By: Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Cntr.
Place: Lima Peaks area south of Dillon
State: MT
Country: US
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 Hunter caught, buried and killed

A hunter was killed in an avalanche on Sunday, November 15th. The 36 year old male was hunting with two companions in the Lima Peaks area south of Dillon, Montana. This area is outside of our forecasting area.

Early Sunday afternoon, the hunters seperated with a plan to meet later that day. When one of the hunters didn't return to the the meeting place, one of his partners followed his tracks and came across an avalanche in which no tracks came out of the debris. The third partner went for help. Local Search and Rescue folks spent the night at the avalanche site.

On Monday, the search of the debris continued with probing and three dogs working the area. The person was recovered by probing Monday afternoon. The site was contaminated which hindered the dog search. The person was buried under about 5 feet of debris.

The avalanche occurred on a Northeast facing slope near timberline at an elevation of about 9600 feet (2900 m). Slope angle near the starting zone was about 35 degrees. Tracks entered the avalanche path about 50 feet (15 m) below the crown face. The avalanche was about 30 feet (9 m) wide at the starting zone, ran 600-700 feet (180 m-212m) slope distance, and was about 100 feet (30 m) wide at the toe of the debris. The crown face was about 12 inches (30 cm ) deep. The avalanche ran near the ground and it was a hard slab. The slope that slide was recently wind loaded.

About 14 inches (35 cm) of snow was on the ground on wind protected slopes.

Most of this information came from one of the dog handlers that was at the site on Monday.

This is the first fatality, involving a hunter that we are aware of in this area.

Ron Johnson, Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center