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Investigation of Mont. avalanche deaths complete

By The Associated Press
Published On: Mar 18 2014 02:45:17 PM MDT
Updated On: Mar 18 2014 05:39:30 PM MDT
Granite County Search and Rescue team responds to avalanche near Altoona Lakes
HELENA, Mont. -

Montana avalanche centers have completed investigations into the recent deaths of two men in snow slides.

The West Central Montana Avalanche Center says 27-year-old Peter Maxwell of Missoula was digging snow pits to determine the stability of the snow northeast of Philipsburg before a planned backcountry ski trip on March 10 when he trigged the avalanche that killed him.

The next day, the manager of a hotel in Cooke City told a group of Minnesota snowmobilers that the avalanche danger was high and he recommended that they not go out.

The group decided they'd be safe if they avoided avalanche terrain. But they took more risks in the afternoon. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center says 18-year-old Zach Junkermeier rode about a third of the way up Crown Butte when two fellow riders rode uphill past him on either side, triggering the fatal slide.