Avalanche kills Montana skier in Glacier National Park

January 6, 2017 Updated: January 6, 2017

KALISPELL, Mont.—An endurance athlete and firefighter who was partially buried in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in Montana’s Glacier National Park died as emergency crews tried to rescue him, officials said Friday.

Ben Parsons, 36, of Kalispell, was a skilled outdoor adventurer who competed in mountain biking and ski mountaineering races and worked as a firefighter and paramedic in the town of Whitefish, the Flathead Beacon reported. He died Thursday, Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said.

Emergency personnel received a call from Parsons’ skiing partner, who said Parsons was partially buried by snow on a mountain and was severely injured, park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said.

Parsons was conscious and responsive when the helicopter crew extracted him about 500 yards below the summit of Stanton Mountain, said Jim Pierce, a pilot for Two Bear Air, which helps search and rescue crews. Parsons died of his injuries during the rescue.

Both skiers were experienced traveling in the backcountry and were equipped with safety gear, including probes, shovels, beacons and helmets, officials said.

The avalanche danger in the area Thursday was rated moderate. Park officials and the Flathead Avalanche Center will investigate what triggered the slide, Alley said.

Parsons’ death was the ninth-recorded avalanche death in Glacier National Park since it was established in 1910.