Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2007-01-01
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Mt. Jefferson, Hell Roaring Canyon drainage
State: MT
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 2 snowmobilers caught, 1 buried and killed


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The Island Park News


Utah man dies in Mt. Jefferson avalanche

A New Year's Day snowmobile ride on Jefferson Mt., Monday turned into tragedy for a group of six young riders from Idaho and Utah, accordsign to a report from Annie Stephns of Fremont County Search and Rescue.

The six men were riding the high terrain on Mt. Jefferson west of Island Park when Ryan White, from Bountiful Utah, rode high up the canyon of one of the draws that leads into Hell Roaring Canyon on the Montana side of Mt. Jefferson. He apparently rode to the top, circled around to come down, and triggered an avalanche, burying himself and partially burying another member of his party.

Nearby riders witnessed the avalanche and offered assistance. The partially buried individual was quickly recovered with minimal physical effort. White's group, along with other riders, located where White was buried. Fremont County Search and Rescue was immediately dispatched when word of the burial was received. By the time they arrived, White had been located, but not totally recovered.

White was found buried under eight feet of snow, and his mouth, nose, and helmet were packed with snow. He had been under the snow for at least 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The avalanche was approximately a half mile long, extending down a narrow canyon. The slide was approximately 30 feet wide at the top, intensifying to 80 feet at the bottom with debris and snow.

Individuals buried under an avalanche usually run out of air very quickly.

Current avalanche conditions are high at the present time. Take all necessary precautions, and look at avalanche Web sites before traveling into mountain areas where avalanche conditions are high.

Exercise all back country cautions. Take necessary equipment and survival gear when venturing into the back country. If you have a GPS and cell phone, be sure to take them with you, but do not rely on them entirely for a safe rescue if you find yourself in trouble or stranded. Avalanche transceivers and equipment, knowing what the avalanche conditions are, and knowing skills to save lives are a must for everyone entering back country riding or traveling. Plan ahead. Know the area you are heading into. If you find yourself in trouble, stop, take a look around you, and do not go any further. The further you go the more complicated and dangerous it is to get yourself to safety, also making rescue efforts more difficult and dangerous. Make mental notes in relation to any physical features or landmarks that would assist in your rescue. Make a plan, stick to your plan, narrow the riding area, and most of all let someone know WHERE you are planning to go!

To check avalanche conditions, here are three sites to look at.