A Snowslide

Ralph Thayer and I made a big-game study in the Pentagon area of the Spotted Bear River in February 1937. On one of the few days we didn't plan to travel together, I was to go up Pentagon Creek; and Ralph, up Wall Creek. We were to meet at the Pentagon cabin that night. The weather was quite cold and there was about 24 inches of new, light snow on top of a heavy crust.

I was walking on a narrow flat, along the creek bottom, about 2 miles up Pentagon Creek above the cabin. Timber on both sides was sparse, with many openings. I noticed loose snow on the right side of the canyon starting to slide, then the whole hillside of loose snow was moving down toward me. A 150-yard wide swath was moving through the trees and open areas.

My first instinct was to run. But I didn't get more than 40 feet when the snow caught me. I was covered over and moved along the ground for probably 50 feet by a moving mountain of snow. When the movement stopped, I was stretched out flat with tons of snow on me. It was totally dark; the pressure was so terrific I couldn't have breathed had there been air to breathe. I was fully conscious and unhurt. Before I could fully comprehend my predicament, I felt myself being moved again in the other direction, as the snow from the other side of the canyon began to slide. I was moved back about 100 feet and was pushed upward. When the slide stopped, I was on top of the snow in a more or less standing position, buried up to my waist in snow. I was still unhurt. I quickly freed my snowshoes, got out fast, and headed for camp. I was, naturally, badly shaken up.

As I neared the Pentagon cabin, I met Ralph. He had heard the snowslide and, knowing I was somewhere in the vicinity, was returning from Wall Creek to investigate.