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The full avalanche fatality report is located here.
On Friday, January 6, Flathead Avalanche Center staff along with Glacier National Park rangers visited the site of an avalanche incident on Stanton Mountain in the park. A full avalanche incident report will be completed within the next few days. Until then, this is preliminary information about the events and the avalanche. Our sincerest condolences are with the family, friends, and all of those involved.
The avalanche occurred at approximately 7200 feet on a southwest facing slope, previously cross-loaded by north-northeast winds earlier in the week. The skier triggered a soft slab avalanche on a wind-loaded slope about 12-30 inches deep. The initial avalanche failed on a thin layer of weak snow (facets) below the wind slab and above a firm layer. However, this avalanche subsequently stepped down and broke on a weak layer (facets) near the ground as it traveled downhill (video). The avalanche debris was deposited approximately 2000 feet downslope in a narrow gully. The victim was not buried and located uphill of the start of the avalanche debris.
Glacier National Park news release: One skier was caught in an avalanche in Glacier National Park on the afternoon of January 5. He and a companion were skiing on the south face of Mt. Stanton, and were approximately 500 feet from the summit. A third skiing companion had previously gone back to the trailhead earlier in the day before the avalanche occurred.
The park received a 911 call from the companion skier at approximately 3:15 pm. He was able to place a call from his cell phone.
The individual stated that his skiing partner had been caught in an avalanche, and that he was not buried but was severely injured. The reporting party confirmed that he had been able to locate his companion, warm him, and continued to provide comfort and care until medical help arrived.
The park, in partnership with the Flathead County Sheriff and Alert, launched a rescue mission. Park rangers responded with a ground rescue mission while an air rescue mission was initiated using Flathead County aviation asset Two Bear Air.
Two Bear Air responded to the injured party’s location shortly after 4 pm.
The injured skier was in critical condition when Two Bear Air arrived, and was determined deceased during rescue efforts.
The victim has been identified as 36-year- old Benjamin Parsons of Kalispell, MT.