"It is unknown if the goat was wearing an airbag" – lucky animal survives 1,000ft ride after triggering avalanche

Mountain goat sitting in snow at Glacier National Park, USA
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A mountain goat was lucky to trot away unharmed after triggering an avalanche at a Montana ski resort, and being swept 1,000ft by the resulting torrent of snow.

As SnowBrains reports, this was one of two avalanches that occurred on closed terrain at Big Sky Resort last Friday. The first happened naturally, while officials say the other seemed to have been triggered by a very lucky animal. Big Sky Ski Patrol reported seeing goat tracks descending towards the crown of the avalanche, and more merrily departing the debris at the bottom.

The goat itself wasn't found, but there was no indication that it might be injured, despite being swept hundreds of feet over rocks. A depression in the debris pile showed where it had come to rest on the surface before heading back up to rejoin its herd.

"It is unknown if the goat was wearing an airbag or if it was deployed in the avalanche," said Big Sky Ski Patrol. "It was a significant ride."

"A significant ride"

The role of ski patrol at any resort is to control avalanche risk, rescue skiers, and generally keep the mountain safe. In January, our writer Julia Clarke spent a day with the team at Verbier, seeing how they use controlled explosions to trigger avalanches early in the day so skiers don't set them off later, ensure the runs stay in good shape, and respond to callouts.

Ski patrols also report on changes and hazards, including recent avalanches, and prepare ski, snow and weather reports. 

Big Sky's report described the goat's avalanche as having a vertical drop of 1,000ft, slab width of 40ft, and slab thickness of 24 inches. A lucky escape, indeed.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.