Nov 13, 2012 3:15 PM by Chet Layman
BOZEMAN - Last week's weather sent much of Montana into a new season. While it's not quite ski season or even winter, it is avalanche season.
A Gallatin County official offered some tips for staying out of harm's way when heading out in to the backwoods of Big Sky Country.
"We have a good search and rescue system [for] the same reason Los Angeles County has good life guards. They've got beaches, we've got back country," Gallatin County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jason Jarrett said.
Many Montanans spend hours in that backcountry and at this time of year avalanches are a risk, and not just to skiers and those riding snowmobiles. After all, there's still a couple weeks of hunting season left.
"Avalanches can happen not just to skiers and snowmobilers, we catch hunters that are crossing gullies and bowls [who] aren't really in the mode of thinking snow stuff. But, it is already avalanche time out there, and we've already proven it," Jarrett said.
The first step to avoid trouble to be prepared. And if you do run into problems, get help quickly.
"Bad things happen to good people. When you get caught in that avalanche, or you've simply just busted your knee up or snapped your ankle because you're crossing through all the dead fall. Try not to let the pride get the best of you, and wait until it's midnight and 40 below and give in and call us," Jarrett advised.
Gallatin County Search and Rescue helped three skiers out of the Bridgers a little more than two weeks ago, before last week's big snow storm. The bottom line is that avalanche season is here.