Two snowmobilers from Minnesota were killed in an avalanche as wide as a football field in south-central Montana, authorities said.
The two men were among eight from Minnesota riding together just north of Yellowstone National Park on Scotch Bonnet Mountain midday Monday, when a wall of snow 300 feet across left them buried under 4 to 5 feet of snow, according to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
The victims were Jesse Thelen, 43, of Paynesville, and Carl Thelen, 39, from St. Martin, Park (Mont.) County Coroner Al Jenkins told the Enterprise newspaper in Livingston, Mont. Numerous friends on Facebook said the two men were cousins.
According to the avalanche center:
The group was on its second day of riding when the two got stuck on the southeast face of Scotch Bonnet. Two others in their party rode up to assist, and the avalanche was triggered soon after.
Riders in the group used their rescue equipment to dig the two out of the snow. Park County search and rescue personnel took the two men off the mountain.
Avalanches have killed six people in the United States in the 2021-22 season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. There were 37 deaths attributed to avalanches nationwide during the 2020-21 season, the center said.