It’s been a bad week for avalanches in the West.
Yesterday a Yellowstone Club ski patroller died in an avalanche in the backcountry just outside of Big Sky Resort. The 34-year-old man, Darren Johnson, was swept into the trees and found quickly by three partners, but died shortly after due to serious injury. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center released the following information:
On Tuesday, January 19, two on-duty Yellowstone Club (YC) Ski Patrollers were helping two MSU graduate students collect data for snow science research.They were on private land in an uncontrolled backcountry setting, when, skiing back in-bounds to the YC, one of the patrollers triggered an avalanche. He jumped off a cornice onto a steep (39-42 degrees) wind-loaded slope which avalanched on his second turn. The slide broke 2-4 feet deep, 300 feet wide and carried him through a terrain trap of thick trees. He was partially buried at the toe of the debris 300 vertical feet below. His partners got to him within three minutes, but the trauma was fatal. We are all deeply saddened by the death of a fellow snow professional. Our hearts are broken for his family and friends.
Current avalanche advisory in the area is “considerable,” meaning avalanches are likely to occur on certain slopes and aspects.
Another man, 49-year-old Douglas Green, was caught and killed in a slide while skiing at Gobblers Knob yesterday. A second man was partially buried in the same slide but survived. An onlooker that saw the incident said that the avalanche looked to be about 1,000 feet long and 100 to 150 feet wide at the top. Read the local news story here.
On Friday, Jan. 15, a 29-year-old snowboarder Christian Mares was caught in an avalanche on a closed run at Sugar Bowl Resort in California. Luckily he survived unhurt but could face criminal charges from the ski resort. Mares was wearing a GoPro during the avalanche, see the footage here.
Yesterday, rescue crews decided to suspend the search for a missing Sugar Bowl ski instructor. 23-year-old Carson May was reported missing on Jan. 15 during whiteout conditions at the resort. A local news source reported more than 400 people assisted in the search for five days, read the full story here.
Our thoughts are with all the victim’s friends and family.