Details on Twin Peaks Ridge avalanche released
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: January 25, 2024
On Saturday, January 20th, 2024 a snowmobiler out riding with a partner on the Twin Peaks Ridge, in the Flint Range, triggered an avalanche that resulted in a burial, a broken femur, and a broken hand. The slope that avalanched on Twin Peaks Ridge, located on the Pintler Ranger District of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF), measured 42 degrees at the fracture line, or crown, and is consistently “wind-loaded” with snow in the winter, meaning that much like the drifts that occur in the valleys, the wind pushes the snow very rapidly to certain areas of the mountain. There have been many avalanche accidents in the Twin Peaks area in the past.
When the victim decided to ‘sidehill’ a slope by riding the snowmobile up into an area of the mountain littered with larch trees, the avalanche fractured above and around the victim – where the slope ranged from 36-42 degrees, and in seconds, both the rider and snowmobile were swept almost 300 feet downhill, where a group of small -diameter larch trees formed a fence that caught the victim and his sled, burying the victim over his head in 6-8ft of debris. The speed and velocity of the avalanche carrying the victim into the trees is likely the cause of both broken bones.
A LifeFlight Helicopter was able to land nearby and transport the victim, and both riders were carrying all rescue gear and airbags, however the victim was unable to deploy his airbag. The victim’s partner exposed his face in 2-3 minutes by digging. The snow-depth at the crown was 60 inches deep due to the wind-loading, and less than 20 inches at the toe of the slope. The avalanche fracture was over 800 feet wide. The avalanche occurred at 8,660 feet elevation.
Statistics show that 92 percent of avalanche victims can be recovered alive if they are dug out within the first 15 minutes, but then the numbers drop catastrophically. After 35 minutes, those chances go down to 37%.
Extreme caution should be exercised while recreating in the mountain ranges around Philipsburg, and across the BDNF. Shallow snow is actually dangerous snow, setting up the stage for any new snow to increase the avalanche danger rapidly.
“The only real solution to our current snowpack situation is patience. With our current weak layers, every small snow storm is likely to raise the avalanche danger, and instability will lurk on many slopes long after the snow falls,” said Doug Chabot, Gallatin Avalanche Center.
For more information on avalanche safety, to submit or review snow reports, and current conditions, visit
Photos: BDNF, map of historical avalanches in this area (marked with yellow dots), photos of the avalanche (marked with a blue ‘x’), and crews recovering the buried sled – please be careful out there and take a friend or inform a friend of your location.
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