Madison Range, Montana – On Saturday, October 7, 2017 a backcountry skier was caught, buried, and killed in an avalanche while approaching the North Couloir on Imp Peak in the Taylor Hilgard Unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness in the Southern Madison Range of SW Montana.
Two skiers were caught in the avalanche. One was fully buried and one was partially buried. Gallatin County Search and Rescue recovered the fully buried victim from the scene on Monday, October 9. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center investigated the accident scene on Monday and will post more details soon (See below for update).
The Friends Of The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center posted the following on Facebook :
- The GNFAC published their preliminary report about the avalanche accident on Imp Peak. They write that the 2 skiers triggered the avalanche while ascending on skis at around 10,000′. The avalanche released on a N-NE aspect on 38-45 degree slope. It measured 1-2 feet deep, 150 feet wide, and 300 feet long.
- The zone had received one foot of snow in October on top of 3-4 feet of snow since September 15. The partially buried skier searched for his partner but was unable to located her. Eventually, the partner hiked out to alert authorities. Gallatin County Search and Rescue found the victim on Monday using avalanche probes. The victim was buried 3 feet deep. The GNFAC will publish a full accident report later this week. Photos are available in their preliminary report.
- An official press release from the Gallatin County Sheriff identifies the victim as “23-year-old year Inge Perkins of Bozeman, MT.”
- According to the Adventure-Journal.com, the avalanche victim was identified as Inge Perkins and her backcountry ski partner was Hayden Kennedy. Kennedy, who was partially buried, was “distraught at her death, took his own life.”
- A statement from the Kennedy Family states, “Hayden survived the avalanche but not the unbearable loss of his partner in life. He chose to end his life.”
- The following Black Diamond’s Facebook post confirms that Hayden Kennedy took his own life on Sunday, October 8, 2017:
- The GNFAC released a short video about the avalanche:
- The GNFAC’s full accident report was released today. They reported that:
- The avalanche classification is: HS-ASu-R3-D2-O.
- In the report it states, “Both were caught, Skier 1 was buried to his mid-chest and back of neck, and Skier 2 was fully buried. Skier 1 had an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. Skier 2 had a shovel, probe, and an avalanche beacon that was turned off in her backpack. We have no knowledge about Skier 1’s beacon prior to the search.Skier 1 dug himself out of the debris. He turned his beacon to “search” and scanned the debris for Skier 2, but did not get a signal. They had not done a previous beacon check. He attempted to locate her by probing and shoveling through the debris. After three hours of searching, Skier 1 was unable to find Skier 2 and walked out alone.“
- For full details on this avalanche fatality, read the PDF report available at MTAvalanche.com.
- A GNFAC email blast noted that they released a “Corrected Avalanche Report.” This report appears at the same link as the report above and can be found at MTAvalanche.com.
We will update this post when more info is available.
This is the 1st avalanche fatality in North America during the 2017/2018 season.