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Date: 2001-12-31
Submitted By: WWAN via The Montana Standard
Place: Thompson Lake, Flint Creek Range; 15 miles West of Deer Lodge
State: MT
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and killed

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Avalanche kills Deer Lodge man

By Vera Haffey, of The Montana Standard

PHILIPSBURG -- An avalanche claimed the life of a Deer Lodge snowmobiler on Monday in the Flint Creek

Range, according to Granite County authorities.

The body of Cory L. Ring, 21, was recovered after a two-hour search in the Thompson Lake area, about 13

miles east of Philipsburg near the Powell County line, according to Granite County Sheriff Steve Immenschuh.

The area also is about 15 miles west of Deer Lodge and about three miles northwest of Mount Powell.

Immenschuh said Ring, his father and two companions were riding snowmobiles on Monday when Ring

separated from the other riders at about 1:30 p.m. When he failed to return, members of his group began

looking for him, and were soon joined by other nearby snowmobile riders.

Ring's snow machine and helmet were found, and then searchers using snow probes located his body in about

three feet of snow around 3:30 p.m.

Powell County Search and Rescue Volunteers aided in the recovery.

Even though the snow pack in parts of southwestern Montana is below average this year, avalanche potential

-- like that of Thompson Lake -- still exists, Immenschuh said.

`` There's not a lot of snow up there, compared to other years,'' he said. `` It just looked like the condi tions

were perfect for it, and (the snow) was just loose enough.''

Services for Ring are Sunday in Deer Lodge. (See obituary on Page A5.)

Forest Service spokesman Bill Sprauer of Philipsburg said that agency will sponsor an annual avalanche

preparedness class for area recreationists at a time to be announced.

Sprauer said education is important for individuals who frequent the backcountry, since avalanche danger is

difficult predict.

`` It varies so much by the drainage and by the mountain range,'' he said. `` It's one of those years where it's a

shallow snow pack. A lot of times, when you have that shallow snow pack and cold temperatures, that can

make some real weak snow.''

Cathy Donahue of Georgetown Lake, spokes woman for the Anaconda Snowmobile Club, cau tioned riders

about potentially hazardous condi tions.

`` Watch on the hillside and play area for sloughing and little slides of small snowballs,'' she said. `` If you see

that, don't play there, and don't high mark there. It's better to be safe than sorry.''

-- Reporter Vera Haffey may be reached by e-mail at vhaffey(at)(at)in-tch.com