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Two Montana men died in separate avalanche accidents in the Cooke City area on Saturday.

Officials with the Park County Sheriff's office in Livingston said on Sunday that the identities of the victims, a 44-year-old cross-country skier from Bozeman and a 46-year-old snowmobiler from Sidney, were not yet available.

Doug Chabot with the Gallatin National Forest said the snowmobiler triggered the slide about noon on Saturday north of Cooke City in southwestern Montana.

Park County Sheriff Alan Lutes said in a news release that the Sidney man was found deceased. Two other men in the party made it to safety. Safety equipment was used by riders in the group, he said.

Yellowstone National Park Communication Center officials notified the Livingston 911 Center of the avalanche at 12:08 p.m. on Saturday.

Cooke City members of the Park County Search and Rescue responded immediately to the Henderson Mountain area about three miles north of Cooke City, the sheriff said. YNP rangers and a sheriff's deputy also responded.

The avalanche measured 300 to 400 feet wide, was one foot to four feet deep and ran 1,300 vertical feet.

Two hours later, at about 2 p.m., a skier in the North Absaroka Wilderness just across the border in Wyoming was traveling on flat ground when he was engulfed by an avalanche that swept down a nearby slope, Chabot said.

The avalanche occurred at the base of Pilot Peak, Lutes said.

A member of the ski party tried without success to locate the missing skier. The Bozeman man eventually was found deceased and was recovered.

Park County Sheriff's Lt. Tom Totland said Wyoming officials were unable to respond because of the poor road and weather conditions, so the sheriff's office, through a mutual aide request from Park County, Wyo., sent a deputy and a coroner. Park County Search and Rescue members from Cooke City also responded.

Chabot said a handful of others in the back country had narrow escapes during a holiday weekend that combined hair-trigger slopes with sunny skies that entice recreationists into the mountains.

In the past three days, the region has received three feet of snow on top of a weak base, Chabot said. An avalanche warning remains in effect.

Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

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