AP NEWS

Snowmobile rider unhurt in avalanche near Cooke City

December 16, 2019 GMT

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A snowmobile rider escaped injury after being caught in an avalanche Saturday in southern Montana, according to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.

The avalanche was triggered by the rider and was one of three triggered near Cooke City that day, The Billings Gazette reported.

Though the rider was uninjured, the snowmobile was “trashed,” the GNFAC reported.

The GNFAC described the avalanche as a hard slab avalanche between 2 and 4 feet (60.9 and 121.9 centimeters) deep. A hard slab avalanche involves hard, dense snow.

In that instance the hard slab avalanche “broke on weak layers below a couple feet of snow that fell last week,” the GNFAC wrote in a report.

The avalanche appeared to have happened on the east facing aspect of the far south shoulder of Mt. Abundance.

Avalanche danger near Cooke City was rated by GNFAC as “considerable” on Sunday but had improved to “moderate” by Monday.

Cooke City is a popular destination for snowmobile riders, but historically has been a dangerous one due to avalanche risk. A 2017 study by the GNFAC found it to be the most dangerous in Montana and in the nation over a previous 15-year period during which 14 snowmobilers died.

However, by the conclusion of the 2019 season the area had made it three years without an avalanche fatality.