Outdoors blog

Washington snowmobiler killed in Montana avalanche

WINTER SPORTS -- I'm working with other media to help get word out the avalanche conditions are dangerous throughout much of the region.  The latest of at least five avalanche deaths reported in the region in the past three days occurred Monday in northwestern Montana.

Two Washington snowmobilers were caught in an avalanche that killed a man from southeastern Washington.

The Flathead County sheriff's office says the slide occurred at 4 p.m. Monday about 12 miles east of Kalispell in the Lost Johnny drainage of the South Fork of the Flathead River.

Undersheriff Jordan White says 33-year-old Charles John Dundon III of Connell, Wash., triggered the slide as he rode his snowmobile across an open slope. Dundon and another man were caught in the slide, but the second man wasn't buried.

Dundon is the fifth person to die in an avalanche in Montana this winter.


Today, the West Central Montana Avalanche Center upgraded the avalanche danger to “high” in the Rattlesnake, southern Swan and southern Mission mountains above 5,000 feet. The center said the ski patrol at Snowbowl is reporting that ski cuts are producing dangerous slab avalanches.

Bitterroot Mountains avalanche danger will be raised to “high” once snow starts falling, the avalanche center said.

In southeastern Montana, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center rated the avalanche danger as “high” on wind-loaded slopes steeper than 35 degrees in the Bridger, Gallatin and Madison ranges, the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone and the mountains around Cooke City.

“Today is not a day to trifle with the snowpack,” the center said in its report. “It’s ornery and getting more dangerous as more snow falls and wind blows.”

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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