Avalanche preparedness class packed after recent deaths

SEATTLE -- Avalanche danger has been high and it's been deadly. Six people, including two teenagers, have died in the last 10 days because of avalanches in the Cascades.

The teens were snowshoeing in the back country near Alpental. A 32-year-old snowmobiler was swept away near Stampede Pass. And a skier was killed near Winthrop.

Over the weekend, an avalanche killed two people, including a Bonney Lake police officer, as he and his friend drove snowmobiles near Esmeralda Peak.

With non-stop snow in the mountains and the passes seeing more than 150 inches of snow in the last week and a half, people considering a trip into the back country are taking things seriously -- and that starts with proper training.

Instructors at an avalanche preparedness class say three tips and three tools could save your life.

Forest McBrian works for the Northwest Avalanche Center and he’s survived several avalanches. He’s helping coordinate a free avalanche training class at the REI flagship store in Seattle.  Turnout is high, as expected.

McBrian says that is usually the case after a rash of deadly avalanches.

McBrian says the three main things every explorer needs to know before heading out into the back country: check the forecast, get the training, and get the gear.

The three main tools include a beacon, which costs a couple hundred bucks. A probe and a shovel will also run you a few hundred dollars as well.

You can check the avalanche forecast every night at 7 p.m. on the Northwest Avalanche Center’s website. It’s valid for the following 24 hours.