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Snowmobiler dies in Montana avalanche, fifth victim since Jan. 1

First Published      Last Updated Mar 12 2014 09:39 am

Cooke City, Mont. • An 18-year-old Minnesota man has died after he was buried in an avalanche in southwestern Montana that apparently was triggered by another snowmobiler.

The victim was stuck on a slope and trying to start his snowmobile Tuesday afternoon when another snowmobiler high-marked above him, triggering the slide, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center said. High marking involves riding a snowmobile straight up a mountain as far as the rider can and turning around before becoming stuck or losing power.

The Park County sheriff's office received a report of a snowmobiler buried in the Daisy Pass and Crown Butte area near Cooke City about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The victim, from Lake Lillian, Minn., was found under about 6 feet of snow shortly after 5 p.m., more than two hours after he was buried. His name hasn't been released.

The avalanche center estimates the avalanche was 500 feet wide, 600 feet long and up to 20 feet deep in places.

None of the seven snowmobilers in the party had avalanche beacons, avalanche center officials said.

Undersheriff Scott Hamilton says one other member of the party was knocked off his snowmobile but not buried. He was slightly injured.

"Avalanche conditions are extreme throughout the entire region," Hamilton said. "Snowmobilers and skiers are cautioned to be mindful of these conditions and avoid areas prone to sliding."

The man is the fifth Montana avalanche victim since Jan. 1. Twenty-three people have died in avalanches nationwide since Dec. 26, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.