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Contact: Denise Germann, 406-888-5838
Two skiers triggered an avalanche on Elk Mountain in Glacier National Park on Tuesday afternoon. Park dispatch received a call at approximately 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, indicating that two skiers were involved in an avalanche and one skier was injured. Park rangers and local emergency personnel organized and responded to the incident.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. park rangers found the skiers and transported them to a nearby trailhead. The Glacier County EMS Ambulance transported the injured skier to a medical facility and the other skier was released at the scene. The skiers, male age 34 and male age 35, both from the local area, were skiing a ridge of Elk Mountain, just west of Marias Pass, when one of the skiers fell and triggered an avalanche. The skier was carried with the slide and partially buried. The other skier was skiing below when the avalanche occurred and was able to escape from the avalanche slide path, and then help rescue his companion. The skier that was partially buried sustained significant injuries.
Emergency personnel assisting Glacier National Park Rangers included members of the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services, Glacier County Sheriff's Office, Flathead County Sheriff's Office, Flathead County Search and Rescue, and North Valley Search and Rescue.
All backcountry recreationists are highly encouraged to be prepared for winter conditions, including awareness and understanding of avalanche terrain, mountain weather, snowpack conditions, current avalanche advisories, as well as being prepared with appropriate equipment such as beacons, probes, poles and shovels. Recreationists should have the knowledge and skills to safely utilize the equipment as needed.
An excellent resource for all winter outdoor recreationists is the Flathead Avalanche Center website, http://www.flatheadavalanche.org/. The website provides avalanche information, including three advisories each week, educational opportunities, and snow observation conditions. Upcoming educational programs include an advanced avalanche awareness class that continues through Saturday, January 19 with the Flathead National Forest, Level 1 Avalanche Course in Libby January 18-19, and Level 1 and Level 11 Courses at Whitefish Mountain Resort in January and February. Please visit the website for more information.