- Two separate parties of skiers triggered avalanches near Frazier Lake in the northern Bridger Range. The first group of three skinned to the top of long and popular east facing chute (>45 degrees). The first skier triggered a slide that broke 18” deep about 1⁄2 way down the run, but managed to ski out of it. This slide likely broke on the weak interface between the old and new snow.
- A second group decided to ski a nearby steep slope (also >45 degrees) slightly to the north. They were unaware of the previous avalanche. The first skier safely descended the run. The second skier had the slope break on his first turn. He tumbled over 1,000 feet through rocks and was almost fully buried. By wiggling his head and using his free arm he was able to dig himself out. His femur was broken, but luckily it was not an open fracture. His partner shouted to the other group who returned to help. A cell phone call to Gallatin County Search and Rescue got rescuers and a helicopter to the scene. He was evacuated with only minutes of daylight to spare.
This now includes 1,000 feet in an avalanche slide that also included an enormous drop over a cliff. It now includes a broken femur, and a dig - with help, though not explicitly mentioned above - out of the snow, and a 200 yard drag to a better helicopter landing site.
It also makes him a bionic big brother, who has a titanium rod in his thigh... who also took his first steps today, less than 24 hours out of surgery.
There will be notes about it in the posts to come, but in the meantime, thanks for your thoughts and thanks to the universe for missed rocks, muscle memory and big brothers (mine and the fellow rescuers).