Fatality in Cooke

Blk88GT

Well-known member
Staff member
Lifetime Membership
Nov 26, 2007
5,318
1,743
113
Winnipeg, Manitoba
AVALANCHE FATALITY: COOKE CITY

I am saddened to report that an 18 year old male snowmobiler from Minnesota died in an avalanche on the northwest face of Crown Butte outside Cooke City yesterday. The victim was stuck on the slope trying to start his machine when another rider high marked above him triggering the slide. Neither he, nor anyone in his party of six, was wearing a beacon. Cooke City Search and Rescue located him with a probe pole under six feet of debris near the toe of the avalanche about 2+ hours later. (photo1, photo2) Our sincerest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victim.

This is the fifth avalanche fatality in Montana and the fourth in the last 18 days. (table)

Mark and Eric are investigating the avalanche today and will write a full report later in the week.

Crown%20Butte%20Avalanche.preview.jpg


Crown%20Butte%20Burial.preview.jpg



Considering the conditions lately and the warning that was issued yesterday, this was a totally avoidable event. Never mind the lack of beacons or highmarking a stuck rider. :tsk::tsk::tsk:

BE CAREFUL OUT THERE AND USE YOUR HEAD!!!! NEVER, EVER EVER PUT TWO GUYS ON THE HILL!!!! :mad2:
 

samiams2

Well-known member
Nov 14, 2009
1,341
524
113
MN...stupid poser flatlander
Sad. My Thoughts and prayers with the Family. Any word on where in Minnesota he was from?

Sometimes the only good result from a bad decision is that others learn from that bad decision. This event should prove to all of us the many principles we all need to follow EVERY TIME we ride in the backcountry.
 

Bacon

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2007
1,639
1,349
113
Napoleon, ND
Young and inexperienced is not a good combination, especially in Cooke City with extreme avy danger. This upsets me on several levels. I have two teenage sons that go riding with me and I worry all the time about them. I have enough experience and try to minimize the danger, but bad things can happen. Having a young man die is just heart breaking.
 

Chewy22

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Oct 17, 2009
1,835
1,050
113
Montana
Why did this happen?

First off my condolences go out to the victim and his family. This is very sad and I feel badly for them. May he rest in peace<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
For the gentleman highmarking above him that caused this unnecessary tragedy, I absolutely have no sympathy for you. The sympathy card stops at stupid. This was stupid. I don’t care about age, experience/unexperienced, how you are or aren’t, where you’re from or not from, this situation should never happen, PERIOD! As far as I’m concerned this is as idiotic as driving drunk.
<O:p</O:p<O:p</O:p
Why were you climbing on a high warning day? The warning was issued early and I’m sure posted all over town.
<O:p</O:p<O:p</O:p
Why were you highmarking above another sledder stuck? There are no excuses for that. Does not matter if it was a high warning day or not, this should never happen; anytime, any condition. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
Why were you riding in the backcountry without the simplest of tools that maybe could have saved a life? There are no excuses. You spend thousands of dollars on machines and equipment, hundreds of dollars driving out here, why no beacons? They are cheap!!!!! <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
Folks all the signs were there. All the information is there. We live in a time where it could not be made any clearer for us. The education and information is readily available.
<O:p</O:p
If available, sign-up for the daily advisories for the areas you ride. It’s easy and FREE!! <O:p</O:p
http://www.mailermailer.com/x?oid=1004149j <O:p</O:p
Read the advisories and learn to understand it. These are not being put out because they have nothing better to do.
<O:p</O:p
Understand and respect the elements you are facing in the backcountry. No matter how tough or great you think you are, the second you stop respecting the elements in the backcountry they will crush you. Mother Nature could careless who you are, were you’re from or what you think of yourself.
<O:p</O:p

The circumstances that lead to this are getting tiresome, Accidents happen and no one is guaranteed to return from the backcountry, that is a given. But let facts be facts, this was no accident; this was a careless act and should never happen, period!
<O:p</O:p

There have been enough of these events to learn from.
 

2XM3

Well-known member
Premium Member
Oct 6, 2008
3,266
1,369
113
Bitteroot valley,MT
Agreed, just amazing that people will NOT buy a beacon and a probe much less a ABS pack and yet tons spent on the sleds/vacation....just a horrible event.... RIP
 

samiams2

Well-known member
Nov 14, 2009
1,341
524
113
MN...stupid poser flatlander
The sad reality is many don't take time to get educated. Perhaps you should have to get an Avalanche Safety Permit to ride in the back country? I don't ride with people who haven't been educated. Too many go with "I've ridden stuff like this it far steeper for years" and reason that they r fine. Hard lesson to learn.
 
Last edited:

Scott

Scott Stiegler
Staff member
Lifetime Membership
Nov 1, 1998
69,537
11,647
113
49
W Mont
Poor kid, I feel awful for the victim and his family.

Why didn't they have gear and why didn't they heed the avy warnings?

I told my wife when the headline came on the news last night that it wouldn't be a local who was killed. And I'll bet it was on Crown Butte.
She thought I'd be wrong.

I hate to say it, but I had a hunch. It didn't add up to be a local....it was middle of the week (when the locals are working), extreme danger is advertised locally and with many recent avalanches being reported. I had a hunch that the first hill they'd poke at was Crowne Butte when they get to Daisy.

Then the newscast gave the report.
My wife looked at me as is to say..."How did you know?". I dunno, I just did.

I've got friends who are flatlanders from eastern MT, NoDak, MN..etc and they are just as avy savy as someone who lives in the mtns. Sometimes they are even better than locals that I know.
So, the the first person that gets all wadded up about my assumption that it's the flatlanders who get into avys and all that stuff...I've been through that discussion before. I know how that goes. It's just that this time, I was right.

I've very sorry for his friend who caused it, because he does have to live with it.
 

m8braaaap

Banned
Dec 3, 2012
8,601
5,335
113
mancos colorado
Prayers to the family and friends.

Man i gotta say this story reminds me of the first few years of riding in the mountains.i didn't have any gear or training.we used to himark eachother to help one another get unstuck all the time.we were just plain lucky.since then I've bought all the gear and got some training and now I'm scared chitless of the sport and will probably not be riding next year.inexpierence is an excuse however is a fine line with stupidity.I'm so guilty of this when i began my sledding days.
 

Sapper

Member
Jan 21, 2011
23
9
3
Eden Valley, Mn
I was very saddened to hear. I didn't him personally. I heard it may have been his first time out west. So much to learn before going out there. We all know people who ride the mountains with little or no training. Those of us who know should take the time to show those who don't, instead of casting judgement by saying they should have known better. Our family sends its deepest sympathy along with prayers to this young mans family and friends. RIP.
 

Flatlander78

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Jan 8, 2009
83
50
18
Glasgow, MT
Prayers to the family and friends.

Man i gotta say this story reminds me of the first few years of riding in the mountains.i didn't have any gear or training.we used to himark eachother to help one another get unstuck all the time.we were just plain lucky.since then I've bought all the gear and got some training and now I'm scared chitless of the sport and will probably not be riding next year.inexpierence is an excuse however is a fine line with stupidity.I'm so guilty of this when i began my sledding days.

I agree, I think a lot of us are guilty of this. Like you said we were lucky. Unfortunately this group was not. All of us have done stupid things when we were young, and even now from time to time so its hard for me to place fault on someone. Especially when I think back and realize I was just like them. My heart goes out to the family and friends.
 

papafinger1

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Jan 16, 2007
11,021
529
113
44
minnesota
First off my condolences go out to the victim and his family. This is very sad and I feel badly for them. May he rest in peace<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
For the gentleman highmarking above him that caused this unnecessary tragedy, I absolutely have no sympathy for you. The sympathy card stops at stupid. This was stupid. I don’t care about age, experience/unexperienced, how you are or aren’t, where you’re from or not from, this situation should never happen, PERIOD! As far as I’m concerned this is as idiotic as driving drunk.
<O:p</O:p<O:p</O:p
Why were you climbing on a high warning day? The warning was issued early and I’m sure posted all over town.
<O:p</O:p<O:p</O:p
Why were you highmarking above another sledder stuck? There are no excuses for that. Does not matter if it was a high warning day or not, this should never happen; anytime, any condition. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
Why were you riding in the backcountry without the simplest of tools that maybe could have saved a life? There are no excuses. You spend thousands of dollars on machines and equipment, hundreds of dollars driving out here, why no beacons? They are cheap!!!!! <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
Folks all the signs were there. All the information is there. We live in a time where it could not be made any clearer for us. The education and information is readily available.
<O:p</O:p
If available, sign-up for the daily advisories for the areas you ride. It’s easy and FREE!! <O:p</O:p
http://www.mailermailer.com/x?oid=1004149j <O:p</O:p
Read the advisories and learn to understand it. These are not being put out because they have nothing better to do.
<O:p</O:p
Understand and respect the elements you are facing in the backcountry. No matter how tough or great you think you are, the second you stop respecting the elements in the backcountry they will crush you. Mother Nature could careless who you are, were you’re from or what you think of yourself.
<O:p</O:p

The circumstances that lead to this are getting tiresome, Accidents happen and no one is guaranteed to return from the backcountry, that is a given. But let facts be facts, this was no accident; this was a careless act and should never happen, period!
<O:p</O:p

There have been enough of these events to learn from.

Being educated in avalanche training and riding in avy terrain my mind says that every point you have made cannot be disputed, BUT my heart says this may have been one of the coldest, inconsiderate posts I have read in years. I hope and pray that something like this never happens to you or anyone you know, but if it does I believe I will have the common courtesy to give my prayers to you and yours as well as the surviving/grieving companions without feeling the need to hammer home the obvious.
This tragic event occurred because of absolute lack of backcountry knowledge, combined with the sheer excitement of riding snow and terrain that has never been seen before to them. Man I wish this could have had a different outcome but unfortunately tragedy has happened and lives have been altered forever. Why do we, as outside observers, feel the need to blame someone. Don't you think blame has been dealt internally already, forever, and for what? 5- days of riding sleds in the mountains? This "trip of a lifetime" turned into devastation for a group of family and friends. It pains me to even think of what they are going through.
Are there solutions to help prevent this from happening to others beyond this point? Absolutely, but is this the thread for emphasizing our opinion on the who's, and why's.... I don't believe so.
I am so sorry for this groups loss. RIP! I am sure you will be remembered fondly in thoughts and prayers.
 

aebsledder

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2008
1,512
857
113
Gallatin Valley
education

I was well on my way to writing a post very similar to Chewy's but ended up deleting most of it. I also was thinking alot of the same things that Scott said in his post. If you follow this years avalanche reports, it is by far one of the worst on record since they started issuing advisories. Personally, I have been on both sides of the fence. I was caught in a slide where myself and the people I was with made a crucial error. Luck was on our side and we ended up being okay. After that happened, the next year I took an avalanche safety class, and took another the year after that. I think one important lesson to learn from this is how we approach the educational aspect of riding in avalanche terrain. Finding out the hard way should not even be an option. This is especially applicable for people who do not live or recreate in avalanche terrain. Seems that there definitely has been more of an effort made, but after this incident, I wonder. 6 people without beacons or rescue gear? Either there is some very deep rooted, stubborn thinking involved, or they just didn't flat know. Maybe a little bit of both? Even the most educated can be caught and involved in an incident. When you take that factor out, the danger increases exponentially. Add in riding on a day there is an avalanche warning in effect, even the best of luck can't help you.

Words can't express how bad I feel for the people involved. I can't imagine having to make that long trip back after something like that has happened.
 

m8braaaap

Banned
Dec 3, 2012
8,601
5,335
113
mancos colorado
You can't be careful enough this year! I hate to do it but I'm selling my sled and not because I'm scared of getting caught in a slide but when i ride now i can't have fun because of the constant fear.if that makes any sense.i had more fun when i was oblivious to the danger.my .02
Again my heart pours out for everyone affected in this tradgedy and everyother one across the west.
Jason
 

polaris dude

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Jun 5, 2009
3,474
1,024
113
Grand Junction, CO
Sympathy for all involved. and yeah Chewy that is a little heartless. Don't you think that the other rider involved already knows exactly how bad he messed up? Prayers for all involved.
 

JHG

Well-known member
Jan 29, 2008
2,437
519
113
Elizabeth, CO/Bozeman, MT
I told my wife at the beginning of the season that this year was going to be a bad one in Montana. I even said that I bet crown butte slides again. The snowfall this season started the same way it did in 2009 when three snowmobilers were killed in one weekend in January. Kirk Hewitt, Josh Jenkins and Travis Engstrom. Travis was killed on Crown Butte and there are pictures of that slide hanging on the wall at Cooke City Exxon. I was there, I'm sorry that anyone else has to go through that situation. My thoughts are with everyone involved, it will change their lives forever.
 

Chewy22

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Oct 17, 2009
1,835
1,050
113
Montana
I found no pleasure in what I wrote. The coldest/harshest words I’ve put in writing. I agree with what everyone has said, we’ve all made poor choices in the backcountry and have been fortunate enough to have survived it. Me included!!!!<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
I feel terrible for this group and all the family and friends impacted by this. My thoughts, heart and prayers go out to everyone involved. I feel horrible for the young man that triggered the slide. There is no doubt this has to be one of the harshest things anyone would have to live through. I pray he finds a way to survive this. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
I wish this would never happen to anyone. I hope myself, the people I ride with, or anyone else for that matter never has to experience something like this. However, there is and will always be that possibility riding the backcountry. It’s the risk we accept with this sport. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
I wrote what I wrote because I love this sport and I have the highest respect, compassion, and truly care for everyone that shares this passion. I understand my words are upsetting, it was intentional. Because at the end of the day if my post causes even one person to go attend an avalanche course or go out and buy the survival gear they have been blowing off or sign-up for the advisory reports or think twice about their choices, that awareness created out ways any criticism I know is coming. I accept and understand that, and respect the opinions of those that find my post cold and incredibly inconsiderate. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
RIP! <O:p</O:p
 

skidawg

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Apr 10, 2006
296
95
28
65
Wausau, Wisc.
You could say this was the perfect storm. Young kids, no training, no avi equipment, exteme cooke city terrain and a lot of hill loading after a big dump. The one question I have, didn't any one of these kids, have any relative or friends that has gone out west and explained the dangers of the mountains? Mike Duffy talks about group dynamics in his avi classes all the time and this was probably one of those situations where it played against these guys. Experience sometimes, can be a very cruel and lasting teacher.
Chewy, I understand your frustrations from this totally preventable fatality, but we need to give our sympathys to the grieving families and hope the other kids from this incident will help crusade and tell their story, so hopefully in the future, they can prevent something else like this from happening, to another young group going out west. :brokenheart: RIP
 
Last edited:
Premium Features