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Avalanche

A 39-year-old Bozeman man died Saturday morning after he was caught in an avalanche in a popular skiing area just outside the boundary of Bridger Bowl Ski Area.

The avalanche occurred just before 11 a.m. on Saddle Peak, according to Capt. Jason Jarrett with Gallatin County Search and Rescue. It was called in by a person riding the chairlift who saw the man get caught in the avalanche when it broke free, Jarrett said.

"It wasn't an exceptionally large avalanche, especially for country like Saddle (Peak), but it was large enough," he said.

The man was pronounced dead after his body was recovered from the snow.

Saddle Peak is a popular "side-country" skiing destination, where skiers and snowboarders can hike up to the ridge after using Bridger Bowl's chairlifts to get most of the way up the hill. It lies outside the ski area, however, and isn't subject to the avalanche-control measures used within Bridger's boundary lines.

The man was among the first few people to reach that part of the mountain after the chairlifts started running, Jarrett said. Three other people were skiing in the same area, but none of them were caught in the avalanche, he said.

The man's name is being withheld by the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office until his family is notified.

Up to 30 inches of fresh snow fell on the Bridger Range Thursday night, prompting the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center to issue an avalanche warning Friday — a first for the month of April.

According to records kept by the avalanche center, this is the third fatal avalanche of the 2017-18 winter season in Montana.

Along with search and rescue personnel, the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, Bridger Ski Patrol and American Medical Response all responded to the incident.

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