North of Ketchum, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) In the last 10 days, 9 people have died as a result of avalanches, in just the west alone. That brings the nationwide total for the winter to fifteen, which is average. Three died yesterday, one in Idaho and two in Colorado.
Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey says, "it's tragic to lose someone from our community when they're out enjoying the conditions we have here. They were out snow–machining with another couple, they were up Frenchman's Creek, they were on the trail which is really the road bed when the avalanche was triggered and we lost George at that time."
64–year old Bellevue resident George Gilbert Martin, Jr. was riding with his wife Lesley and an Oregon couple at Frenchman's Creek, 36 miles north of Ketchum.
The slide happened around 2 pm Sunday when one of them began to walk around, stepping on a new snow slab, penetrating the old layer.
The slide started around 9000 feet in elevation and ran 1400 vertical feet.
"In the zone that the accident occurred in, the avalanche danger was rated high in upper elevation slopes and considerable in lower elevation slopes. Basically it was elevated....high danger means that human triggered avalanches are likely as well as natural avalanches are likely," explains Simon Trautman, Director, Sawtooth Avalanche Center.
Steve Swann is visiting from Meridian with his children, enjoying some snow mobiling in central Idaho. They were 30 miles away from the avalanche at Frenchman's Creek.
Swann says, "we're staying in the flat areas because anytime you get a lot of moisture and a lot of snow like we got in the last week or so, the shelves get unstable and it will get slick and the heavy snow on top of the old snow starts to slide. There's a few avalanches around that we've seen but we're staying away from them."
George Martin is the third snowmobilier in Idaho to be killed so far this winter, according to avalanche.org. All but one of the 15 fatal avalanche accidents happened in the west.
For current conditions, please visit sawtoothavalanche.com