Image of the avalanche on Scotch Bonnet. Photo: B. Zavora

COOKE CITY, Mont. (AP) — Two snowmobilers died in an avalanche in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park, where about 3 feet (1 meter) of snow had fallen over the past week, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center said.

Four people were riding snowmobiles on the southeast face of Scotch Bonnet Mountain north of Cooke City on Monday when the avalanche happened.

The avalanche brought down snow about 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep and approximately 300 feet (91 meters) wide, burying two of the riders, officials said.
All eight members of the group had rescue equipment, avalanche center officials said.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue also responded to assist with rescue and recovery efforts.

The victims’ names haven’t been released.

Due to consistent snowfall in the mountains around Cooke City, human-triggered avalanches were likely on steep, wind-loaded slopes, the avalanche center said Monday morning.

The deaths were the fifth and six due to avalanches in the United States this month, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Montana had two avalanche deaths during the 2020-21 season.