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Follow up to Avalanche Fatality in Glacier National Park

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avatar Rangers Investigate Apparent Avalanche Death
April 02, 2010 01:29PM
Rangers Investigate Apparent Avalanche Death
Date: April 1, 2010
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406 888-7895

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park rangers are investigating the death of an apparent avalanche victim.

The fatality was reported to the park around 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2010.

Park rangers reached the scene of the avalanche and confirmed the fatality at 5:45 p.m. Thursday evening.

The victim was found at the base of Mt. Shields at the end of an avalanche slide. Mt. Shields is located on the south east side of Glacier a few miles from U.S. Highway 2.

No further details are available at this time. More information will be released as soon as it available.
avatar Avalanche Victim Identified
April 02, 2010 03:46PM
Avalanche Victim Identified
Date: April 2, 2010
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406 888-7895

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Rangers at Glacier National Park are continuing their investigation into the death of Brian Curtis Wright, 37, of East Glacier, Montana, whose body was recovered in avalanche debris on the northeast face of Mt. Shields late Thursday afternoon, April 1. Rangers believe Wright triggered a large slab avalanche while snowboarding on Mt. Shields at approximately 1 p.m. Wednesday March 31 shortly after talking to his mother via cell phone from the summit of Mt. Shields. Mt. Shields is located in the southern most portion of Glacier National Park within a few miles of U.S. Highway 2. The Mt. Shields area is popular with backcountry ski and snowboard enthusiasts.

The fatality was reported to park rangers around 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 1. The reporting party told rangers they had last heard from Wright at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30 when Wright texted friends that he was on Mt. Shields (elev. 7131 ft.). When friends did not receive responses to subsequent text messages on Wednesday, they grew concerned. Thursday, a friend located Wright’s vehicle at the Fielding Ranger Station trailhead and skied up to Mt. Shields where Wright’s body was spotted high in a gully within the slide path of a recent avalanche. The backcountry party skied out and called park headquarters to report the avalanche and fatality.

Park personnel were dispatched to the trailhead Thursday afternoon. Rangers skied up the northeast face of Mt. Shields to where they located Wright’s body and confirmed the fatality at 5:45 p.m. Additional park personnel were also dispatched and were on hand to respond as needed. A total of 20 NPS employees and a helicopter from Minuteman Aviation of West Glacier were involved in the park’s overall response to the incident.

At the scene, rangers found tracks that suggested Wright had made two trips up the face of Mt. Shields. One set of tracks was located in an open area with few trees. Field personnel observed a two-foot deep fracture in the snow pack just below the summit of Mt. Shields on its northeast face. Rangers believe this route most likely triggered the avalanche which ran about 2,000 vertical feet; the overall reach of the avalanche was approximately 2,500 to 3,000 feet. The avalanche was approximately 150 yards wide and narrowed as it ran down a narrow gully. Wright’s body was about 200-300 yards above the end (toe) of the avalanche slide path. Investigating rangers believe he tumbled approximately 2,000 feet before his body came to rest at an elevation of 5,427 feet. Avalanche debris in the vicinity of Wright’s body was measured at 20-30 feet deep; however, his body was only partially covered in the avalanche debris.

Wright was an avid outdoorsman and knowledgeable backcountry traveler. Friends believed that Wright had an avalanche transceiver, but thus far, neither Wright’s backpack nor his transceiver have been located.

Park officials are saddened by this tragic death; however, they stress that all backcountry travelers are urged to be familiar with current avalanche conditions and heed avalanche warnings when venturing into avalanche prone backcountry areas as well as to have appropriate avalanche equipment (avalanche transceivers/beacons, probes and sturdy shovels). Backcountry enthusiasts are also urged not to travel alone, to have and know how to operate avalanche transceivers/beacons and to let someone know their itinerary and expected return date and approximate time.

Winter backcountry travelers are reminded that backcountry permits are required for all overnight backcountry trips. This contact allows park personnel to ensure that backcountry travelers are well prepared and familiar with current avalanche conditions. Winter permits are available, at no charge, Mondays through Fridays at park headquarters, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends at the Apgar Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Avalanches are a real danger in the mountainous areas throughout Glacier National Park and surrounding areas. All backcountry travelers are urged to check http://www.glacieravalanche.org for the latest avalanche hazard and weather advisory before entering the park’s backcountry.

A team of rangers are continuing their investigation on Mt. Shields today; however, no further details are available at this time.
avatar Re: Rangers Investigate Apparent Avalanche Death
April 05, 2010 03:08PM
Glacier National Park
Snowboarder Killed By Avalanche On Mt. Shields

Rangers are conducting an investigation into the death of Brian Curtis Wright, 37, of East Glacier, Montana, whose body was recovered in avalanche debris on the northeast face of Mt. Shields late on the afternoon of Thursday, April 1st. They believe that Wright triggered a large slab avalanche while snowboarding on Mt. Shields at approximately 1 p.m. the previous day, shortly after talking to his mother via cell phone from the summit of Mt. Shields. The mountain is located in the southern most portion of the park and within a few miles of U.S. Highway 2. The Mt. Shields area is popular with backcountry ski and snowboard enthusiasts. The fatality was reported to rangers around 2 p.m. on Thursday. The reporting party told rangers they had last heard from Wright at 6 p.m. on Tuesday when he texted friends that he was on Mt. Shields (elevation 7,131 feet). When friends did not receive responses to subsequent text messages on Wednesday, they grew concerned. On Thursday, a friend located Wright’s vehicle at the Fielding Ranger Station trailhead and skied up to Mt. Shields, where Wright’s body was spotted high in a gully within the slide path of a recent avalanche. The backcountry party skied out and called park headquarters to report the avalanche and fatality. Park personnel were dispatched to the trailhead on Thursday afternoon. Rangers skied up the northeast face of Mt. Shields to Wright’s body and confirmed the fatality at 5:45 p.m. Additional park personnel were also dispatched and were on hand to respond as needed. A total of 20 NPS employees and a helicopter from Minuteman Aviation of West Glacier were involved in the park’s overall response to the incident. At the scene, rangers found tracks that suggested Wright had made two trips up the face of Mt. Shields. One set of tracks was located in an open area with few trees. Field personnel observed a two-foot deep fracture in the snow pack just below the summit of Mt. Shields on its northeast face. Rangers believe this route most likely triggered the avalanche, which ran about 2,000 vertical feet. The overall reach of the avalanche was approximately 2,500 to 3,000 feet; it was approximately 150 yards wide and narrowed as it ran down a narrow gully. Wright’s body was about 200 to 300 yards above the end (toe) of the avalanche slide path. Investigating rangers believe he tumbled approximately 2,000 feet before his body came to rest at an elevation of 5,427 feet. Avalanche debris in the vicinity of Wright’s body was measured at 20 to 30 feet deep, but his body was only partially covered in the avalanche debris. Wright was an avid outdoorsman and knowledgeable backcountry traveler. Friends believed that Wright had an avalanche transceiver, but thus far, neither Wright’s backpack nor his transceiver have been located.
avatar Follow up to Avalanche Fatality in Glacier National Park
April 22, 2010 05:58PM
Follow up to Avalanche Fatality in Glacier National Park
Date: April 20, 2010
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406 888-7895

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park today announced that investigations are now complete following the death of Brian Curtis Wright, 37, of East Glacier and Whitefish, Montana, whose body was recovered Thursday, April 1 , 2010, on the northeast face of Peak 6996 (elev. 6,996 ft.) near Mount Shields (elev. 7,131 ft.) in the Marias Pass area of Glacier National Park.

Wright, a lone snowboarder riding on Peak 6996 (locally known as Palindrome Peak, Little Shields, or False Shields), was caught in an avalanche and sustained fatal injuries by an avalanche that occurred on March 31, 2010.

Following the incident, the National Park Service (NPS) assembled a team of avalanche experts and investigators to analyze the conditions that contributed to the death of Mr. Wright.

Supplemental findings from field investigations conducted by the NPS and regional avalanche experts are available at the Glacier Country Avalanche Center web site: http://www.glacieravalanche.org/incidentsdetail.cfm?RECNUM=59.

Exact details of the actual avalanche event are not known because the victim was alone. According to friends, Wright was very familiar with the area and snowboarded there quite often.

All backcountry travelers are urged to be familiar with current avalanche conditions and heed avalanche warnings when venturing into avalanche prone backcountry areas as well as to have appropriate avalanche equipment (avalanche transceivers/beacons, probes and sturdy shovels).

Backcountry enthusiasts are also urged not to travel alone, to have and know how to operate avalanche transceivers/beacons and to let someone know their itinerary and expected return date and approximate time.

Avalanches are a real danger in the mountainous areas throughout Glacier National Park and surrounding areas. All backcountry travelers are urged to check http://www.glacieravalanche.org for the latest avalanche hazard and weather advisory before entering the park’s backcountry.
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