Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: SNFAC & Jon Barker ITD
Place: Sheep Mountain on the North Fork Clearwater River
Summary: 4 snowmobilers caught, 2 buried, 1 killed
March 16, 2008
4 snowmobilers caught, 2 buried, 1 killed
Location: Sheep Mtn. near Orofino, Idaho
Submitted by: SNFAC & Jon Barker ITD
Seven snowmobilers were riding in the Clearwater Forest near Sheep Mountain on the North Fork Clearwater River. Four snowmobilers were high marking on a slope when the slide broke at about 5600' elevation. The three other snowmobilers were on one of the road cuts part way down the slide path and escaped out three separate side roads before the slide reached their elevation.
One of the four on the slope was able to turn around and escaped out the lower left side of the slide as it caught up with him and pushed him out of the way. A second rider of the four turned and tried to escape down and out off the left side of the slide and was overcome by debris. He was tumbled off of his machine in the slide debris and came to rest on the surface. The other two were caught in the slide and carried down approximately 1,100' vertical feet. One of those caught felt himself slowing down as he went over a logging road cut. At this point he felt a snow machine next to him and grabbed hold of it and came to rest with the machine creating a good air pocket. He broke a piece off of his goggles and began tapping on the cowling of the machine. 45 minutes later members of his group saw a piece of his handle bar as they heard him tapping on the cowling. He was dug out without any injuries, depth of burial was approximately 4 feet. The snowmobile turned out to belong to the other rider who was still buried. Ten minutes later as more people were approaching, they saw part of a glove 100' uphill. Digging at this site uncovered the unresponsive victim.
The team of seven snowmobilers had many shovels and probes but only two transceivers. Neither of the two persons buried had transceivers. Debris depth ranged from an average of 4 feet with deeper deposits of 10 to12 feet deep on the road cuts in the slide path.
No visit to the site was conducted and no snowpack info was available. Photos of the site show an approximate 3' crown running across much of the top of a clear-cut. Debris traveled down an open gully below the clear cuts.