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Flint Range in SW MT., Wednesday, January 30thbr Report is from Bill Sprauer of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
I interviewed an individual this morning that was caught in a small slide on Wednesday. He wishes to remain anonymous, however he was more than willing to give me some details of the Avalanche.
There was a group of about 12 snowmobilers that were on a trip into the Flints. A number of them had transceivers, shovels and probes. Some had been through an awareness session here in town just the Saturday before. They were on a lake at approximately 8000 feet at 3 pm when the individual made a highmark up a short slope while the others watched. At the top of the high mark, as he was starting around, the slope failed. He said he tried to make a run to the side, but was immediately knocked off his sled face first downhill. He then slide face first down the hill about 200 feet. He said he tried swimming but it really didn't seem to be all that effective. As he came to a stop he said he was able to move his hand near his face a little, spit out some snow and move one foot. Some of the party were at the scene immediately after and were just commencing a transceiver search when they found his foot sticking out. They were then able to dig him out and reach his face in about 5 minutes. He indicated that by the time he was uncovered he felt flush as if he was running out of air. His head was under about 3 feet. The individual said that they had tried some shorter slopes and looked at other slopes and had not noticed any obvious signs of instability. The slope he high marked on was relatively short with some larger rocks sticking through the snowpack. The group was well aware of the number of avalanches that had occurred in the State lately and were being relatively cautious and staying away from the larger slopes.
The avalanche occurred on a 30-35 deg slope on a Northwest aspect. It was on the lower 1/3 of a slope which was basically timber covered on the upper 2/3. He thought the fracture was about 2 feet deep and then the slide ran to the ground. The slide was approximately 200 feet wide by 400 feet long. Total snow depth in the area was 4-5 feet.