- Avalanche was triggered at the bottom of the couloir (elevation-10,000′) on a N/NE aspect
- Crown measured 1-2′ deep
The first fatal avalanche of the season consisted of a 1-2′ deep “hard slab” that consisted of wind affected snow. That slab broke off atop a dense layer of snow from earlier in September reports the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
Ultimately the slide, which occurred on Saturday, buried two individuals who have yet to be identified. One of the victims was only partially buried by the avalanche while their partner remained fully submerged.
“The avalanche was 1-2’ deep at the crown, approximately 150’ wide, and 300’ long. The slope where the avalanche released was 38-45° steep with a north-northeast aspect” – GNFAC
The skier who survived actively searched for their partner but after no luck– headed towards the trailhead to alert search and rescue. The skier’s body was recovered on Sunday beneath roughly 3 feet of snow and avalanche debris.
Update: Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Fatality 10/10/17
With unbelievably heavy hearts, we are sad to report there was an avalanche fatality on Saturday, October 7th. The incident occurred on Imp Peak in the southern Madison Range, approximately 20 miles south of Big Sky. Two skiers were caught, one was fully buried and killed.
On Saturday, two skiers hiked 6 miles from the Upper Taylor Fork trailhead to the north couloir of Imp Peak. Near the bottom of the couloir around 10,000’, they triggered an avalanche while ascending on skis with skins. The avalanche was 1-2’ deep at the crown, approximately 150’ wide, and 300’ long. The slope where the avalanche released was 38-45° steep with a north-northeast aspect (photo, photo).
This area received one foot of snow since October 1st, which was on top of 3-4 feet of dense snow that fell since September 15th. The avalanche was a hard slab of wind-drifted snow that collapsed on a layer of soft old snow underneath, and slid on the old snow from late September (photo).
Both skiers were caught, skier 1 was partially buried and skier 2 was fully buried. Skier 1 searched for skier 2, was unable to locate her, and then hiked himself out from the area. On Monday, Gallatin County Search and Rescue recovered the body of skier 2. They located her with avalanche probes, buried 3’ deep. Alex and Doug went in for the recovery and accident investigation, and will have a full accident report available later this week. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the skiers involved.
Find out more here: Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center