Montana avalanche claims life of skier

A 39-year-old Bozeman man has died after being caught in an avalanche while skiing in southwest Montana.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says Anthony Saracelli was skiing in a backcountry area on Saddle Peak on Saturday morning when he apparently trigged an avalanche.

Authorities were notified of the incident at about 11 a.m. by a person riding up a chairlift at the nearby Bridger Bowl Ski Area.

"Using an avalanche transceiver, they got close to him and then they saw that his hand was sticking out of the snow. So they were able to locate him quickly but unfortunately he didn't make it," said Doug Chabot with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.

The slide carried Saracelli about 1,500 feet down the mountain and it took rescuers about 75 minutes to extricate the victim from the snow.

Chabot said a skier has an 80 percent chance of survival if found within 10 minutes of being buried, 40 percent after 12 minutes and dropping drastically any longer than that. He said it's important to ski with a partner to maximize your chance of being found quickly and to always take a beacon, shovel and probe.

Spring typically brings very wet snow and lately, southwestern Montana has gotten a lot of it.

"Bridger Bowl has gotten over 4 feet of snow since Wednesday and that new snow is what was causing all this instability," said Chabot.

It is the third avalanche fatality in Montana this season.

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