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Snowmobiler killed in southern Montana avalanche

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- An avalanche in southern Montana buried three snowmobilers from North Dakota, killing a 33-year-old man.

The Park County Sheriff's Office said two of the snowmobilers were able to dig themselves out Saturday from the slide north of Cooke City on the Montana-Wyoming line. The victim and his companions have not been identified.

Undersheriff Clay Herbst said five people were riding snowmobiles when one of the riders got stuck. That started an avalanche, which buried the three riders.

According to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center the slide was triggered by the victim who was buried six feet deep under his sled. The victim had an airbag, but was unable to deploy it.

GNFAC writes on its website that the slide also caught two other party members who were parked in the run out zone. One was buried to his chest while the other was completely buried. They both deployed their air bags and escaped relatively unharmed.

Authorities said all riders were experienced, and had avalanche beacons, shovels, and backpacks with inflatable airbags.

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center warned people in the backcountry about dangerous conditions.

"Continuous snowfall and strong winds have added weight and stress to a weak and unstable snowpack. Natural and human triggered slides are likely today. Avalanche terrain including avalanche runout zones should be avoided. The avalanche danger is rated high on all slopes," the warning on their website read.

The warnings cover the mountains near Cooke City, the Madison Range, the Gallatin Range, the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone and the Bridger Range.

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