Avalanche danger remains, despite warmer weather

Posted at 7:01 PM, Apr 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-16 21:01:48-04

BOZEMAN – April 15 marked the last day of the ski season for Bridger Bowl, but with changing weather conditions, Ski Patrol warns anyone heading to the backcountry to be extra cautious.

Bridger Bowl posted the following statement on its website signaling the end of the season:

“As of 4pm, Sunday, April 15, the ski area is now closed. Please be advised that there will be no avalanche hazard reduction within the ski area from now until next season. Bridger Bowl will have backcountry conditions from this day forward with no ski patrol services. In case of emergency, call 911 for Gallatin County Search and Rescue.”

People are still able to take advantage of Forest Service land and backcountry, and after a Bozeman man was killed in an avalanche on Saturday just south of Bridger Bowl, now is a good time to remind yourself of the risks.

Fresh snow, melting and refreezing, and the right amount of wind, can lead to hazardous conditions, and Ski Patrol Director at Bridger Bowl Doug Richmond, said not to be fooled by the warmer weather.

“Every day we get the warm weather, and with the warm weather, the whole snowpack can turn to isothermal mush, just like wet cement hanging on the hillside,” Richmond said.  “If you can get a little of that going with a snowball or pinwheel, sometimes the snowballs will roll up pretty big, especially with the fresh snow that’s melting now, and that can cause the wet slides that can step down and be very big and devastating."   

Richmond also offered tips to keep yourself safe, including going out with a partner, having the proper avalanche gear, and always remembering that organized rescues can take extra time, especially in remote areas.

If you do find yourself in need of rescue, contact the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.