Memorial Day took a frightening turn for 13 cyclists, when an avalanche stranded them in Montana’s Glacier National Park. The cyclists were trapped for about eight hours on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, as park crews attempted to clear the snow. The avalanche occurred at Triple Arches, which had been closed earlier in the day due to a rock slide that was blocking the road there.
When the cyclists became trapped, two volunteer bike patrol units relayed the distress call to park dispatch, and stayed in the area for over four hours until park rangers could arrive on the scene. The snow only stabilized after several hours, however, so the park’s road crew had to wait until they could safely work on the site. Eventually, the crew cleared the rock slide and cut a path through the avalanche to open an escape route for the stranded cyclists. The rescue operation took around eight hours and required over a dozen park staff and volunteers. The cyclists were reportedly unharmed.
Paul Austin, chief ranger, advised bikers, “If you see fresh snow on the side of the road or across the road, even if you are excited about your bike trip, turn around. Take responsibility for your safety and though disappointing, plan on heading out another day. Biking along the Going-to-the-Sun Road is not the same as an easy bike trip around town.”