Man Killed in Avalanche Near Philipsburg Named - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

UPDATE: Man Killed in Avalanche Near Philipsburg Named

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PHILIPSBURG -

The Granite County Sheriff said a 27-year-old Missoula man died after he was buried in an avalanche north of Philipsburg.

Sheriff Scott Dunkerson said Peter Maxwell was skiing in the backcountry on Monday, when the slide occurred.

Dunkerson said the group of skiers was in the back country of the Flint Creek Mountains just 10 miles north of Philipsburg.

"Yesterday at approximately 3 o'clock, the Granite County Sheriff's Department received a call from the International Emergency Response Center of an avalanche beacon activated," he said.

Dunkerson said the distress call came from Peter Maxwell, who was buried under an avalanche while skiing near Altoona Lakes-- a popular, but secluded spot for winter recreators.

He said shortly after the beacon was activated, his office started receiving 9-1-1 calls.

"Those calls were coming in from one of the persons in the party, stating that one person was buried and they were making efforts to retrieve him at that time."

Dunkerson said Maxwell's six friends made a heroic effort to rescue their friend, but weren't able to uncover him before he died of asphyxia under the snow.

"The backcountry avalanche danger at this time is very high and conditions are unstable in the backcountry," Dunkerson said.

Law enforcement officers with the Forest Service and Missoula avalanche experts conducted an investigation in the area on Tuesday, although it's still unknown how the avalanche was triggered.

Dunkerson said anyone planning on recreating in the backcountry needs to be aware of the most current avalanche conditions.

Experts said avalanche danger is considerable in the West Central Montana backcountry, after heavy, wet snow and rain loaded the area over the past two days.


A man, who was back-country skiing in southwestern Montana and died in an avalanche, was identified as Peter Maxwell, 27, of Missoula.

Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson said that Maxwell was with a group of people that was skiing northeast of Philipsburg in the Altoona Lakes area on Monday when the slide occurred. Dispatchers received the call at about 3 p.m.

Dunkerson said Maxwell died of asphyxiation, but decline to say how many people were skiing in the area.

Maxwell is the fourth person to die in western Montana avalanches since Jan. 1.

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