Sign Alerts Avalanche Danger Near Cooke City

Written by on February 11, 2019

Snowmobilers and backcountry skiers are being made aware of avalanche conditions near Cooke City, Montana, thanks to a new sign posted at the edge of town.

The Billings Gazette reports that the sign posts the avalanche threat in a similar way that forest signs inform users about fire conditions. Seth McArthur, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Snow Program manager, says that they targeted Cooke City because in the snowmobile world it’s known as the deadliest place in America.

In a 2017 study, Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center director Doug Chabot plotted snowmobiler avalanche fatalities and found Cooke City was not only the most dangerous place in Montana, but also the worst place in the nation over the previous 15 years.

The newspaper reports that the sign is part of an avalanche education and awareness effort that began in the winter of 2016-17 that included free weekend avalanche classes in Cooke City. Pat Doyle, marketing and communications manager for Montana State Parks, said in an email that the sign will be updated daily with the avalanche conditions. It also shows where avalanche fatalities have occurred in the area during the past 10 years.

This winter has seen 11 fatalities nationally — five snowmobilers and six skiers. Two of the snowmobilers killed were riding in Wyoming.


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