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Idaho State News

Working Group Addresses Eastern Idaho Avalanche Impacts

Ethan Davis | Project Chair – Eastern Idaho Avalanche Working Group

KETCHUM, Idaho (January 3, 2023) — The Sawtooth Avalanche Center (SAC), in conjunction with the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center (BTAC), the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC), the Utah Avalanche Center (UAC), and the FS National Avalanche Center (NAC), announce the formation of a working group that aims to reduce backcountry avalanche accidents in Eastern Idaho.

Since 2010, 11 people have died in avalanches in Eastern Idaho’s backcountry. Ninety-one percent of those who died were riding snowmobiles or snow bikes. Eighty-six percent of recent accident victims had insufficient or missing rescue gear.

The working group hopes to improve the quality, spatial coverage, and accessibility of avalanche information; expand free and low-cost avalanche education; and foster vital partnerships with public and private entities across Eastern Idaho.

Joining the avalanche centers on this mission to improve avalanche safety in Eastern Idaho is the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, which will host a free event 7-10 p.m. Jan. 5, 2023, at the Colonial Theatre in Idaho Falls. The event, dubbed “Avy Savvy,” will feature presentations by Sawtooth Avalanche Center staff and avalanche film screenings of “To the Hills and Back” and “The Fine Line.”

To drive home the message of safety, a friend of professional backcountry snowmobiler Rob Kincaid, who died after he was caught in an avalanche while riding in 2020, has donated Kincaid’s snowmobile to be auctioned off live at the event. Proceeds from the auction will fund avalanche safety information boards and avalanche transceiver check stations at trailheads across the region.

For more information about the Eastern Idaho working group, contact Project Chair Ethan Davis at [email protected]. For information about the event, contact Brian DiLenge at [email protected].