Snowmobiler Killed in Avalanche Near Big Sky


(Big Sky Mont.) Wednesday January 1 at about 6:00 p.m. the Sheriff’s Office was advised of an avalanche south and east of Big Sky in Onion Basin.  Three snowmobiles from Bozeman, all males ages 46, 19 and 19 were in the area when 2 were caught in a large avalanche between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m.  46 year old Burton Kenneth Gibson was buried and killed in the slide.  One member was able to dig himself out.  The two other riders located Gibson using avalanche transceivers, uncovered him and attempted CPR.   The survivors made their way out to the Portal Creek trailhead in Big Sky and notified authorities.  Because of severe avalanche conditions and darkness Sheriff’s Search and Rescue at Big Sky did not attempt to access the area that night.

This morning Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue has 18 members including members of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center going into the area to recover Mr. Gibson and conduct the investigation.  Members will attempt to access the area by helicopter with back up snowmobile teams in place to assist if necessary.  Public access to the area is temporarily closed.

Another release will be posted this afternoon detailing recovery efforts.  Media contact is Sheriff Brian Gootkin 406-539-8824.  #####

By 1:00 pm the body of Mr. Gibson was recovered from Onion Basin and all Sheriff’s Search and Rescue members were back in Big Sky.  The Avalanche Center ( will be posting a detail of the avalanche later.  Photos courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office






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