A 26-year-old man is out of the hospital after surviving an avalanche Wednesday. Folks with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office say he was released from the hospital Wednesday night.
The avalanche happened on Bridger Peak, south of Bridger Bowl ski area.
Folks with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center report the skier jumped a small cliff band and triggered the slide when he landed. It broke about a third of the way down the slope and was estimated to be a few hundred feet wide, a few feet deep and ran 500-600 feet into a confined gully.
Avalanche investigators say the man was partially buried in a standing position and was able to free an arm to clear snow from his face. The man was rushed to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital in a helicopter with what first responders initially believed was a broken femur.
I'm told the man's injuries turned out to be less severe but doctors say in an avalanche, anything can happen. I wanted to find out more about what injuries avalanche victims might suffer so I talked to an orthopedic surgeon who's treated ski injuries and avalanche victims.
"Sometimes people will break and I had a girl this year who broke both both her femur and her tibia on the same side so, again, those are almost always either hitting a tree or falling off a cliff," says orthopedic surgeon and Alpine Orthopedics Partner Dr. Timothy O'Brien.
Folks with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office say the man was very lucky. He was at the hospital within an hour of when his partners made the call for help.
I talked to folks at Bridger Bowl who tell me Wednesday's "moderate" avalanche danger rating for non-ski areas in the Bridger range may deceive some folks.
This slide just goes to show human caused avalanches are still possible, especially on Bridger's ridgeline where it's easy to find wind-loaded slopes.