Two skiers who triggered an avalanche in Glacier National Park on Tuesday afternoon were rescued by park officials after one of the men was partially buried and injured in the slide.
The skiers, ages 34 and 35, of Whitefish and Missoula, respectively, were skiing off a ridge on Elk Mountain west of Marias Pass when one of the men fell and triggered an avalanche. He was carried with the slide and partially buried, while the other skier, who was skiing below when the avalanche occurred, was able to escape from the slide path and help rescue his companion. The Missoula skier who was partially buried suffered significant injuries, Glacier Park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
The injuries included a broken arm, six fractured ribs, head lacerations and a puncture wound to his thigh.
Park dispatch received a call at approximately 4:15 p.m. Tuesday that two skiers were involved in an avalanche and one skier was injured. Park rangers and local emergency personnel organized and responded, finding the skiers at around 6:30 p.m., Germann said.
The men were taken to a nearby trailhead where the Glacier County Emergency Medical Services Ambulance was waiting to transport the injured skier to a hospital. The other skier was released at the scene.
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Emergency personnel who assisted Glacier National Park rangers included members of the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services, the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Flathead County Search and Rescue, and North Valley Search and Rescue.
Anyone traveling in the backcountry should be prepared for winter conditions, Germann said. This includes an awareness and understanding of avalanche terrain, mountain weather, snowpack conditions, current avalanche advisories, as well as carrying appropriate equipment such as beacons, probes and shovels, and knowing how to safely use the equipment.
The Flathead Avalanche Center website provides avalanche information, including three weekly advisories on snow conditions at flatheadavalanche.org.
Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at (406) 531-9745 or at email@example.com.