Safety Advice For Backcountry Snowmobilers - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Safety Advice For Backcountry Snowmobilers

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BOZEMAN -

After one person died in an avalanche while snowmobiling near Big Sky last night, snowmobile safety is now on the top of many people's minds.

Burton Kenneth Gibson, 46, died last night after being buried in an avalanche Wednesday afternoon in the Onion Basin area near Eaglehead Mountain, east of Big Sky.    

Eighteen Gallatin County Search and Rescue and avalanche experts spent the morning recovering Gibson's body using snowmobiles and helicopters.

"The helicopter just dropped off Mr. Gibson about a mile up Portal Creek and we have our search a rescue team with a sled up there," said Brian Gootkin, Gallatin County Sheriff.

Crews did not attempt to access the area last night because of severe avalanche conditions.

Gibson was snowmobiling with two 19-year-old men

One of those men was partially buried, but he was able to dig himself out.

The two men then used avalanche transceivers to find Gibson who was completely covered by the slide.

They attempted CPR on Gibson but were unable to bring him back.

Manager of Yellowstone Motor Sports in Belgrade, Travis Burian said snowmobiling and avalanches often go hand in hand.

"You got to be prepared for the inevitable," said Burian. "Avalanches can happen anywhere. It is part of the sport; it is part of being in the back country."

He said keeping safe is as simple has having the proper gear.

"Make sure you have that transceiver, probe and a good group of riding buddies that know where you're going, check the conditions, know where you are riding," said Burian.

While we know Gibson and his companions were wearing beacons, Burian said there are other pieces of equipment like an avalanche airbag that can help backcountry users stay safe.

"It will bring you up to the top, that's what it is supposed to do anyway, of an avalanche. It increases your survival rate quite a bit," said Burian.

Burian said as technology improves, avalanche survival gear will only improve as well.

"The companies developing transceivers and what not, these avalanche bags, they're constantly trying to have the latest technology, the best technology to ultimately increase our chance of survival," Burian said.

 

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