Warm weather has skiers worried

By ALLISON ERWIN/Montana State News

Unusually high temperatures this week have skiers worried about backcountry conditions.

Although last Wednesday was an especially good day to ski with large amounts of powder, this week’s temperatures have been unseasonably high.

According to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, northwest temperatures will be reaching 40 degrees F with 15-25 mph winds. The dangerous combination has skiers worried about wind slaps, possible avalanche triggers and fire danger during the summer.

Bridger bowl patrons are preparing for an abnormally warm week. Local skier Henry Emack says he plans on going out on the slopes because of the warm weather, “Bridger’s going to be beautiful, even though it’s early (for the weather), it’ll be nice.”

While some are excited about the changing climate, others are worried. Early spring, paired with below average snowpack, poses an increased risk for early season fire danger, something residents are already talking about.

“With the coming of an early spring, comes the arrival of any early fire season,” says local fire fighter volunteer Jackson Keogh.

Softer snow at greater elevations can lead to an increased risk of avalanche danger in popular backcountry skiing accesses in Gallatin and the surrounding ranges.

Local avalanche authorities are cautioning skiers against backcountry travel in particular avalanche prone areas.

“We lost a patrol a couple of weeks ago,” said Charles Haworth, a Yellowstone Club ski patrol, explaining the risky backcountry terrain when fellow patrol passed away three weeks ago. “We are cautioning skiers to be extremely careful in the backcountry,” warned Haworth.

Although the warm weather may be tempting to ski the backcountry it also brings about a potentially dangerous situation.
– Edited by Ross Sellers

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