Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: GNFAC; Ron Johnson
Place: Daisy Pass; north of Cooke City
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and rescued by own group.
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.
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.