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Flathead Avalanche Center issues backcountry reminder

Posted at 2:20 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 16:21:15-05

KALISPELL — A popular activity in Northwest Montana is expected to see an uptick in thrill-seekers this winter due to COVID-19 concerns at busy mountain resorts.

MTN News checked in with officials with Flathead Avalanche Center Director Blase Reardon who’s warning backcountry users to be well-prepared before they venture into the unknown.

“So, as that snowfall accumulates, and we build a slab on that weak layer we expect rising avalanche danger over the next few days and next week,” Reardon said.

Reardon is warning outdoor enthusiasts in Northwest Montana to be well prepared before they venture into the backcountry this winter.

He expects an uptick in backcountry users this season due to COVID-19 concerns at mountain resorts and an influx of people moving into Flathead County.

Reardon says those going into the backcountry need to well-prepared to avoid potential disaster.

“That preparation is getting some avalanche training, carrying avalanche rescue gear, beacon, shovel, probe, possibly an airbag, and checking the forecast every single day you go out into the mountains,” Reardon advised.

Reardon says the Flathead Avalanche Center has already begun reporting daily avalanche forecasts this season covering the Whitefish, Flathead, and Swan Mountain ranges as well parts of Glacier National Park.

“Helping people understand what kind of terrain is okay on a given day and what kind of terrain is off-limits for the day,” Reardon said.

He says the best piece of advice is to never venture off into the backcountry alone, no matter what your experience level is.

“Practice with your rescue gear and contributing to decision making for your partners is one of the best ways that you can stay out of trouble in the backcountry and avoid accidents,” Reardon said.

He also says the Whitefish, Swan, and Flathead Mountain ranges saw above-average snowfall in October and November.

Reardon is advising those venturing into the backcountry to sign up for avalanche rescue courses at the Flathead Avalanche Center.