BIG SKY — Gallatin National Forest officials are warning backcountry enthusiasts to take extra care after three snowmobilers escaped injury in a weekend avalanche near Big Sky.
Forest forecaster Alex Marienthal said in a Sunday advisory that the snowmobilers were caught Saturday in a 1,500-foot-wide, 4-to-6-foot-deep slide on Buck Ridge.
Marienthal says similar avalanches have broken naturally on sugary and weak layers hidden deep inside snowpack in recent days.
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More can be expected. Backcountry visitors are urged to avoid slopes that are wind-loaded with snow and to avoid steep slopes that may hide persistent weak layers of snow.
Two snowmobilers were killed in a Jan. 1 avalanche near Lake Dinah, northwest of Seeley Lake. The West Central Montana Avalanche Center had issued an avalanche warning for the area after more than a foot of heavy, wet snow had fallen overnight.