Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2000-12-26
Submitted By: GNFAC; Ron Johnson
Place: Daisy Pass; north of Cooke City
State: MT
Country: USA
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and rescued by own group.

Ron Johnson

Avalanche Specialist

Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center

According to the witness that submitted the report: Six snowmobilers were

taking turns high marking a slope near Daisy Pass, which is located about

five miles north of Cooke City, Montana. They had climbed this hill about

10 times when one of the riders got high on the slope, ran out of power and

while turning the sled the avalanche released.

The person who was caught stayed with his sled until just before the

avalanche stopped moving. (I didn't get any information regarding the size

of the avalanche or how far the person was carried on the debris). The

person was buried with his head facing downhill and one boot was sticking

out of the snow. He was about three feet from his sled. The avalanche was

witnessed. All of the riders had avalanche transceivers and shovels and

there were a few avalanche probes within the group. The group was able to

uncover the person within about 5 minutes of being caught in the avalanche.

The buried person's helmet had been ripped off of his head during the

avalanche and his mouth was packed with snow. When he was pulled from the

snow he was fine, except being short of breath and having a "purple blue

face". The witness felt that if the buried person had not hung onto his

sled, he might have been harder to locate.

The group returned to Cooke City and as the witness said; "that was the end

of our day".

That is all the information I have at this time.

Snowpack Information:

Our southern mountains, which include this area, have had some of the

weakest and unstable snow in our advisory area. On many aspects there is a

layer of facets sitting on an old melt-freeze crust 25cm from the ground

with the total depth of the snowpack between 75 and 100 cm. The avalanche

danger was rated as Considerable on all slopes during this incident.