Latest slides push Idaho, Montana to top of avalanche fatalities

MISSOULA — The latest avalanche in the Northern Rockies pushes Idaho and Montana to the top of the list of accidents where people have been killed in slides this winter season.

Two skiers were killed in avalanches that hit the Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg Tuesday. A total of seven people were caught in the slides, which happened after heavy snowfall had moved through the Silver Valley and Northwest Montana.

Last week, two snowmobilers were killed when their sleds were caught in a backcountry avalanche that was triggered while they were riding on the trails near Dinah Lake in the Seeley-Swan. A third rider managed to escape.

As we near the mid-point of the winter season, the Colorado Avalanche Center reports the two accidents are the only ones in the Rockies, which have involved multiple fatalities, and have Idaho and Montana tied at the top of the accident list.

In December, a “sidecountry” rider was killed in an avalanche near Park City, Utah, and a backcountry skier was killed when he was caught and buried in an avalanche in Colorado’s Diamond Peaks area.

Last year, a skier was killed in the Bridger Range and another backcountry skier died after his party was caught in a slide near Bell Lake, in the high country of the Tobacco Root Mountains.