Ski patroller dies in avalanche

Darren Johnson, 34, of Big Sky, died last week on Jan. 19 in an avalanche in the northern Madison Range. Johnson, who had been a part of Yellowstone Club since November 2010, was one of two ski patrollers accompanying a pair of MSU graduate students conducting avalanche research. After finishing their work, the group was heading back to the base area when Johnson skied down a dangerous slope, triggering the 300 foot slide. He was carried through 50 feet of trees and his group members reached him in about 3 minutes. While only partially buried, the trauma he received in the trees was fatal.

“We are devastated by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time,” Lauren Herchert said on behalf of the Yellowstone Club. According to the Associated Press, ten people have died in avalanches across the West in the last week and a half, making this month the deadliest January for slides in 20 years.