Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2001-02-04
Submitted By: Douglas Chabot GNFAC
Place: Hyalite Drainage in the Gallatin Mountains
State: MT
Country: USA
Summary: 1 snowboarder caught and buried in roadside terrain trap

BACKCOUNTRY SNOWBOARDER BURIED

February 4th, 2001

This is a second hand account that was verbally described to me by one of the rescuers. On Sunday a snowboarder was trying to descend a 50-foot road cut in Hyalite Drainage in the Gallatin Mountains south of Bozeman, MT. The road up the canyon sees heavy traffic on weekends and is popular with skiers, boarders, snowmobilers, tubers and ice climbers. This accident happened only a few miles up the road near a popular roadside crag.

A snowboarder started his descent when he tipped over and released a small avalanche. It was only 5 feet wide, 10 inches deep and 50 feet long. The snowboarder was carried downhill and completely buried in the burrow pit on the side of the road. His friends saw it happen and started digging him out with their hands and a spade that someone had. They flagged down someone driving by who had a shovel. The snowboarders head was 18 inches under the surface and was breathing upon extrication. Although his body was contorted from the confining nature of the burrow pit, he was uninjured.

This area had about 10 inches of new snow from the previous two days. I did not investigate the site, however my recent observations up Hyalite Canyon lead me to believe that there was only a foot of faceted snow on the slope before this recent storm event.

Given that he was out to just board these small embankments it wasn't surprising that they carried no rescue gear. His friends who witnessed the slide most definitely saved his life.