BYU-Idaho Radio · The State of the Mountains and the Dangers of Avalanches
We’re reaching the end of winter, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep playing in the snow. The Bridger-Teton National Forest hosts a lot of guests throughout the year, but recently the forest has seen an increase in the dangers associated with the mountains.
Last month, there were almost 100 avalanches in the Bridger-Teton area. Bob Comey, director of the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, said this was a deadly month for the area.
“This has been one of the most tragic months we’ve had in a long time with respect to avalanche fatality,” he said in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio. “There’s been a lot of extra avalanches because we’ve been in the middle of a storm cycle.”
In past weeks, several regions in the Midwest have been hit hard with large snowstorms. Oklahoma and Texas received the worst end of it, but they were not the only ones targeted. Eastern Idaho and Wyoming have also taken a beating.
“There’s been fatalities in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming,” said Comey. “We had three fatalities in less than a week, and that’s been very tragic.”
Because these avalanches have been happening more frequently recently, Comey wants to let the public know about what the Avalanche Center does to help prepare for these events.
“We put out daily avalanche forecasts, twice a day. We’ve been doing our best to get the word out to the public about the seriousness of the avalanche hazard over the last month,” he said.
Not only does the website have daily updates on the forecasts, but there are also resources to teach you about avalanche safety.
“Another key component to that is having the rescue gear, and that includes an avalanche transceiver, a shovel, first aid equipment, and what’s really, really important is your partners,” he said.
Despite all the dangers that you could potentially face when playing in the mountains, Comey wants to emphasize that it can still be a lot of fun.
“I don’t want to scare people from going outdoors. Even when the danger is pretty high, you can still go out and recreate on great snow on terrain that doesn’t avalanche. We just need to have the skills we need to understand avalanche terrain, avalanche hazards, and make decisions with respect to where we go and where we don’t go so that you come back safe and get to be with your friends and family and get to do this for the rest of your life,” Comey said.