Two snowmobilers killed in Montana avalanche

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 8:24 AM EST
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COOKE CITY, Mont. (KECI) - An avalanche in Montana killed two cousins who were snowmobiling on Monday.

Park County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue said Jesse Thelen, 43, and Carl Thelen, 40, were buried in the snow and ice while they were snowmobiling. Six others in their group used their rescue equipment to find the men, but they were unable to revive them.

The avalanche broke 5 feet deep and about 300 feet wide on a southeast-facing slope.

“The issue is really the type of terrain that different users like to recreate in. For advanced snowmobilers and skiers and users, they like to be in steeper terrain, and steeper terrain is where avalanches happen,” National Forest Avalanche Center forecaster Dave Zin said.

Avalanche forecasters said considerable avalanche danger persists in the mountains around Cooke City and West Yellowstone. This means human-triggered avalanches are likely on steep slopes in these areas.

“This is a fairly typical set up for us. We get snow, some of it is weaker. We get more snow, and that loading and stressing of the snowpack is what causes avalanches,” Zin said.

Zin said no matter how experienced you are, you should always check avalanche conditions in the area before going out.

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