A trio of cyclists from Bigfork Montana encountered a couple of avalanches while riding the Going-to-the-Sun road through Glacier National Park this past Thursday.
An article from the National Parks Traveler reports that the first slide narrowly missed the riders near the area known as Triple Arches. The group comprised of a husband, wife, and their friend decided to call it at approximately 6:30 PM but was separated by a second avalanche while riding back. The wife was at the front of the group when she heard the slide and called out to warn her two companions to stop. The slide came down between them and trapped the husband and friend on the uphill side of the road. The wife returned to the base of the road and called for help.
A ranger arrived to the scene of the avalanche at about 7:30 PM and decided to wait until the sun went down for snow conditions to cool and stabilize before attempting rescue. A group of rangers began the rescue at 9:30 PM and successfully retrieved both stranded cyclists across the slide chute without injury.
“The sudden onset of sunny and warm weather on Thursday afternoon, combined with recent new snow from the previous weekend, created unstable surface snow conditions,” said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Erich Peitzsch. “These conditions resulted in a wet, loose avalanche originating above the road in Triple Arches that deposited debris on the road.”
Officials of Glacier National Park remind park visitors that snow can avalanche above Going-to-the-Sun Road in active avalanche terrain that often cannot be seen from the road. Avalanches are more likely to occur before or after sunny/warm weather, rainstorms, or snowstorms. Visitors are encouraged to start and finish their trip before the warmest part of the day. Do not stop under gullies or snowfields and turn around if there is a rapid increase in temperature.
Going-to-the-Sun Road is currently closed to vehicles at Avalanche Creek until the road opens to Logan Pass for the season. Due to continued avalanche conditions, hiker/biker access is currently not permitted past the Loop. Check the park website for updates.
Noted: Observe and adhere to avalanche safety practices even when bike riding near mountains.
****Check out video of a similar incident in Glacier National Park from 2019****
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