(CNN) – A man who was snowmobiling in the Sawtooth National Forest in central Idaho died Friday after triggering a large avalanche.
The snowmobile driver was driving up a steep slope in the Smoky Mountains, about eight miles from Galena Summit, when the avalanche triggered, according to Sawtooth Avalanche Center.
“We are sad that yesterday in the upper reaches of the Smiley Creek drainage a snowmobile driver was caught and killed in an avalanche,” said the avalanche center in a Facebook post.
“The avalanche danger was classified as considerable at the time of the accident,” said the center. “We extend our deep condolences to the friends and family of the victim.”
The driver deployed his avalanche airbag and, according to the center, was not buried, but died of serious injuries sustained during the snowstorm.
His partners discovered him on the surface and were unable to revive him.
“The avalanche broke 3-4 ‘(feet) deep and over 500’ (feet) wide on a south-facing slope at 9100 ‘(feet),” the center said.
A deadly avalanche season
The snowmobile driver’s death is the latest in a string of deadly avalanches that killed 29 people in the United States this winter season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The deadliest avalanche years occurred in 2008 and 2010, when CAIC recorded 36 avalanche deaths.
Nikki Champion, a forecaster at the Utah Avalanche Center, told CNN earlier this month that the deadly season was due to more people enjoying more time outdoors and “really dangerous blanket of snow.”
According to Champion, this year’s avalanche season was probably more active due to a “persistently weak snow layer”.
Although avalanches can form at any time under the right conditions, the number of avalanche deaths usually rises sharply in January and February.