Whittier Principal Dies in Avalanche Near Big Sky
UPDATE: The skier who died has now been identified as 45 year old Bozeman resident Craig Kitto. He was the principal at Whittier Elementary School in Bozeman.
On Valentine's Day Sunday, an avalanche in Beehive Basin near Big Sky caught two skiers, sending one of them to the hospital. The avalanche occurred just before noon on Sunday, February 14.
Two skiers were caught in the avalanche and swept down the mountain into some trees. According to a news release issued by the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department, one of the skiers was buried but was not injured. He heard the other yelling for help and immediately called 911.
Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue in Big Sky, LifeFlight, and Big Sky Fire Department all were alerted and responded. The Search and Rescue team made it quickly to the scene and began rescue procedures.
A Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue helicopter team transported the injured skier to a waiting ambulance. The skier was later flown to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital by LifeFlight Network helicopter where he passed away as a result of his injuries, according to KBZK-TV.
The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center reported that in the Madison Range, a snowmobiler triggered an avalanche over the weekend. The snowmobiler was partially buried but uninjured.
In the Bridger Mountains, skiers reported a slide near the ridge, but it was unclear whether it was triggered naturally or by a skier.
This past Thursday, two separate groups reportedly triggered large avalanches in the Lionhead area and near Big Sky.
If you are headed into the backcountry, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center warns that the snowpack remains unstable. As of February 14, 2020, the avalanche danger is MODERATE.