Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Two snowboarders who triggered an avalanche in the backcountry of Colorado in March are facing criminal charges.

Sawtooth Avalanche Center

Last year, avalanches hit 11 structures in the Wood River Valley, rolling accross roads and wiping some houses out completely. The workers tasked with cleaning these messes up, along with snow from typical storms, sometimes don’t speak English.


Alex Berger / Flickr Creative Commons

 


January is peak season for skiers and snowboarders in Idaho. But with these kind of high-impact sports, brain injuries can be far too common. How should folks stay safe while taking part in their favorite cold weather sports? 

During National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, Idaho Matters is joined by Dr. Steven Gale, director of the St. Alphonsus hospital trauma center, and Bert Mecham with Fremont County’s EMS in eastern Idaho.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

The number of avalanche fatalities in the U.S. has remained fairly steady over the years, despite more people visiting the backcountry. But one thing that’s changed, according to a recent study, is the median age of victims has gone up.

 


On a frigid Tuesday evening, Brent Yatkeman is scrambling to save an avalanche victim buried in the snow somewhere on a ski hill near Park City, Utah. 

Kathy Plonka / AP Images

Update at 10 p.m. on Jan. 9:

The death toll has risen in the aftermath of the avalanche that hit the Silver Mountain ski resort in northern Idaho this week.

Ethan Davis / Sawtooth Avalanche Center

Over the last few days, an unstable mix of rain and snow in Central Idaho has led to several avalanches. One of them destroyed two homes.


Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

If you live in Stanley, Idaho, it’s going to take you an extra couple of hours to drive to the Treasure Valley. That’s because an 11-mile stretch of road between Lowman and Stanley is still covered in snow.

 

There’s some apparent good news for backcountry adventurers in the West this winter: the number of avalanche deaths is declining.

Malcolm / Flickr

The first day of winter is December 21, but a telltale sign of the colder months is here. Starting November 30, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center will start publishing daily avalanche advisories. The center is relying on a range of media to broadcast its information.

John Milner / Flickr Creative Commons

The Sun Valley Resort has shut down Bald Mountain for fear of extreme avalanche danger.

While the resort has received some 50 inches of snow in just the last few days, warmer temperatures plus winds and freezing rain are making for a dangerous mix. With temperatures above 40 degrees, the situation on the mountainside is touch and go.

Once it's deemed safe, Bald Mountain will be reopened.

Tim Hagen / Flickr Creative Commons

Snow in the mountains this week has Idaho backcountry skiers both excited and on alert. The Sawtooth Avalanche Center put out an extreme avalanche warning Thursday. For Chris Lundi of Sawtooth Mountain Guides, this means he and his guides are staying away from avalanche-prone spots.

Jon Preuss / Sawtooth Avalanche Center

An avalanche in southwestern Montana killed a skier over the weekend.

Park County Sheriff Scott Hamilton says 55-year-old Christopher Peterson of Ketchum, Idaho, died. He was skiing with six other people Sunday when the slide buried him in 5 feet of snow near the base of a tree.

Hamilton says probes and an avalanche transceiver helped find Peterson and the other skiers dug him out within 15 to 20 minutes, but he couldn't be resuscitated.

Idaho Transportation Department

The people who live in Elk City are still trapped in their tiny Idaho County town, after a massive mud and tree slide wiped out the only road, Idaho Highway 14. Since Thursday, only mail and medicine has made it into town, via snowmobile. But the Idaho Transportation Department says help is coming.

The slide took out both sides of the highway and ITD hasn’t said how long it will take to clear the mountain of mud and debris ten miles west of Elk City. So Tuesday they plan to open an old Forest Service road to get people and supplies in and out.

Jon Preuss / Sawtooth Avalanche Center

This week, an avalanche on Bald Mountain injured a skier who was out of bounds at the Sun Valley ski resort. When it happened, the avalanche danger in the area was “high,” which means human-triggered avalanches were likely.

Every day, snow science experts from the Sawtooth Avalanche Center head out into the backcountry to figure out the severity of avalanche danger.

Credit Courtesy Idaho Department of Transportation

Underneath all that snow, ice, and tree debris is Idaho's Highway 21. Somewhere. This dramatic image from the Idaho Department of Transportation shows just how much work is ahead for road crews in clearing off a 12-mile section of the scenic road south of Stanley. That orange dot near the middle of the image is an ITD crew member.

avalanche
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Updated March 4, 2014 at 9:45 a.m.

A woman who was rescued about three hours after her Missoula home was destroyed by an avalanche has died.

About 100 neighbors converged Friday to help find 68-year-old Michel Colville, her husband and an 8-year-old boy after they were buried by the avalanche in a residential area of the western Montana city.

Police say Colville died Sunday night at St. Patrick Hospital. Her husband, Fred Allendorf, remains hospitalized in serious condition.

snow, avalanche, sawtooth
Mark Westerdoll / Sawtooth Avalanche Center

Winter and early spring in the West means it's avalanche season. Several avalanche warnings have recently been in effect for parts of south central Idaho. And at least 17 people have died this season, including a Bellevue, Idaho man.

Let's say you're skiing in the backcountry, looking for some powder — but instead, you trigger an avalanche.

If you have an avalanche air bag pack strapped to your back, you just yank the cord. That deploys the air bag, which keeps you close to the surface and easier to dig out, says Andy Wenberg with Backcountry Access, one of several companies making the devices. When deployed, his company's version of the air bag comes out like wings.

"The whole idea when you deploy that thing in an avalanche is you're avoiding burial death," he says.

avalanche, map
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center

An avalanche in the Sawtooth National Forest killed one man and injured a woman Sunday afternoon at a popular snowmobile site in the Smiley Creek area north of Ketchum. The avalanche west of Galena Summit buried four snowmobilers early in the afternoon.

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office says 64-year-old George Gilbert Martin Jr. of Bellevue, Idaho died on the scene.

Sawtooth Avalanche Center director Simon Trautman says the four snowmobilers were in a meadow which they thought was safe.

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