Avalanches kill snowmobilers in Montana, Wyoming; one companion rescued | SummitDaily.com

Avalanches kill snowmobilers in Montana, Wyoming; one companion rescued

Separate avalanches over the weekend killed two snowmobilers in Montana and Wyoming and prompted warnings from avalanche experts about backcountry snow conditions in popular snowmobiling areas of both states.

Near Jackson, Wyo., two snowmobilers were buried Saturday in a slide. Rescuers were able to dig out and resuscitate one victim who was buried 6 feet deep, according to the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center. The person who died was buried by 8 to 10 feet of snow.

Their identities weren’t immediately released.

Near Cooke City, Mont., just outside Yellowstone National Park, a North Dakota man died Saturday in an avalanche triggered by a companion, the Park County undersheriff said.

Jeffrey Michel, 34, of Jamestown, N.D., was buried under 7 feet of snow for about 18 minutes on Scotch Bonnet Mountain several miles north of Cooke City, Undersheriff Gary Tanascu said.

Michel was with a group of North Dakota snowmobilers who were “high-marking” ” driving their machines high on a slope. His snowmobile became stuck and as he tried to free it, another snowmobiler high-marked above him and set off an avalanche, Tanascu said.

Companions freed Michel from the snow and attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but could not revive him.

“They were all high-marking, trying to get to the top of the peak,” Tanascu said. “High-marking is dangerous, and there’s always a chance that you’re going to set of an avalanche when you’re doing that.

Avalanche information centers in both Montana and Wyoming said avalanche hazards in both areas on Monday remained “considerable.”

“Don’t be lured by the tracks of individuals willing to accept a high level of risk,” the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center in Wyoming said in an advisory.

“Current conditions require that each party make their own hazard evaluations and make conservative decisions based on those findings.”

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