Backcountry ski trip ends in tragedy

By ALEXANDRA DUBIN/Montana State News

Montana State University student Nathaniel “Alex” Wright, 20, was found dead in Hyalite Canyon Friday Feb. 5 after a solo backcountry ski trip gone wrong.

Wright was reported missing Thursday night at about 10:45 p.m. by his girlfriend, according to the Gallatin County Sheriff’s office. At about 6:30 a.m. Friday morning, Search and Rescue discovered his body off-trail near Hyalite Creek, according to KBZK. His car was found parked in the History Rock parking lot, according to NBC Montana.

Wright’s death was ultimately the result of a combination of mistakes. According to NBC Montana, one of his skins failed in rough terrain, preventing him from quickly returning to his car where his emergency kit was stored. Consequently, he was forced to remain outside overnight in temperatures  barely above zero, according to Gallatin County Sherriff Brian Gootkin.

A local Ski Patrol member currently completing their third season who requested to remain anonymous said, “First mistake when going into the backcountry, in the winter, in Montana, is going alone.” The National Ski Patrol System’s main goal is to provide service and safety.

Some tips that the Ski Patrol member suggested will help maintain safety in the backcountry include going to familiar places, avoiding remote locations, and having proper equipment along with a back-up plan in case of emergency.

– Edited by Megan Ahern

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