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Wilderness accidents and rescues

2013 was a big year for missing hikers, injured climbers and other accidents involving the outdoors.

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Generic photo of skier in deep snow at Crystal Mountain Resort. The resort received 19 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, and a total of 94 inches in the past nine days, the resort said Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Crystal Mountain Resort)

TACOMA — The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday identified the skier who died a day earlier on Crystal Mountain as Loren Miller, 32, of Seattle. It listed the cause of death as asphyxiation from snow immersion suffocation.

A tree well/snow immersion suffocation accident happens when a skier or snowboarder falls – usually headfirst – into a tree well or deep loose snow and becomes immobilized and trapped under the snow and suffocates.

The Crystal Mountain Resort said the man was reported missing by a ski partner at 2:25 p.m. Wednesday. He had last been seen at about 1 p.m. in an area called Dick’s Face.

A member of the ski patrol who was searching for the missing man identified some ski equipment near the base of a tree at about 2:30 p.m.  The patrol member dug out the victim and began CPR, but it was unsuccessful.  “It appears the victim died from snow immersion suffocation,” the resort said.

Crystal Mountain Resort received 19 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, and a total of 94 inches in the past nine days, the resort said Wednesday afternoon.

“This serves as an unfortunate and sad reminder of how important it is to ski and ride with a partner, and keep them in sight, especially where there’s a lot of new and unsettled snow,” said Paul Baugher, Ski Patrol director.

SIS & tree well safety website:

Local News

32-year-old skier killed at Stevens Pass

STEVENS PASS, Wash. — A 32-year-old skier was killed at Stevens Pass Ski Resort Monday, authorities said.


A view of all the snow near the Stevens Pass area Monday. (Photo: David Frick)

The man apparently his hit head on a rock in Corona Bowl, on the backside of the mountain.  Authorities said he was within the ski resort boundary.

The call came into the ski patrol at about 10:30 a.m.  An ambulance from King County Fire District 50 responded, but the man was pronounced dead in the ambulance.

The man’s name has not yet been released.

Local News

2 skiers injured in avalanche flown out of backcountry


The Wallowas in eastern Oregon.

BAKER CITY, Ore. — Two skiers from the Seattle area who were injured in an avalanche that killed two other members of their party were rescued and flown out of the backcountry Wednesday night, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office said.

They were flown by helicopter to the Baker City Airport, where they were to be flown to a trauma hospital. A sheriff’s spokesman said it was unknown when they would be able to recover the bodies of the two dead skiers because of poor weather conditions in the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon.

A group of Seattle-area skiers was in the area on a five-day guided tour when the avalanche struck near Little Eagle Meadows in the southern Wallowas near Cornucopia on Monday, injuring a man and a woman and killing two other skiers.

Search and rescue crews were able to make it to the slide area and three members of the party who were uninjured were taken to safety by snowcat.

An uninjured guide stayed with the injured skiers overnight.

National Guard helicopters from Idaho and Oregon had been assisting in the rescue efforts.  But 8 inches of new snow overnight and changing weather conditions forced officials to put those plans on hold for now.

The names of the skiers have not been released.

BAKER CITY, Ore. — Two backcountry skiers from the Seattle area were killed and two others were seriously injured in an avalanche Tuesday in the mountains of eastern Oregon, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office said.


The Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon.

A total of eight people were skiing together when the avalanche hit near Little Eagle Meadows in the southern Wallowa Mountains near Cornucopia, Baker County Sheriff Mitch Southwick said.

In addition to the two who were killed, two were seriously injured and four were uninjured, he said.  The two people injured apparently suffered broken bones, Southwick said.

The skiers, who were from the Seattle area. were on a guided multiday trip, according to Connelly Brown, the owner of Wallowa Alpine Huts Ski Outfitters, which conducts wilderness ski tours.

Brown said there was an unconfirmed report that a woman suffered two broken legs, and a man had one broken leg.

Southwick said a Life Flight helicopter has been dispatched to rescue survivors, but the helicopter can’t get any closer than about a half-mile away from the scene. Members of the Panhandle Snowmobile Club were en route to the scene as well.

The skiers were not immediately identified.

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday identified a climber who died in an avalanche on Lewis Peak as Franklin Bradshaw, 52, of Mukilteo.

lewispeakBradshaw was climbing in the area on Saturday, Jan. 18, when it was reported that he stepped out on a cornice, which gave way from under him and triggered an avalanche, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

Volunteers and personnel from the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit and Everett Mountain Rescue responded and his body was recovered from the area late Sunday.

SEATTLE — A rescue aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., rescued a 60-year-old man that reportedly suffered a broken ankle while hiking in Olympic National Park near Starbuck Mine, Wash., Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said.

olympic1A member of the U.S. Forest Service, who was on-scene with the man and rendered first aid, requested Coast Guard assistance through the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

The aircrew launched from Port Angeles aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter at about 3:50 p.m., and was able to safely hoist the injured man aboard. The aircrew transported the man back to Air Station Port Angeles, and transferred him in stable condition to waiting emergency medical services at about 5:30 p.m.

EMS transported the man to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.

Local News

Concrete man still missing in North Cascades

Mt.BakerMT. BAKER WILDERNESS — Search and rescue workers are still looking for a 38-year-old man who went missing near the Elbow Lake trailhead in the Mt. Baker Wilderness area earlier this month, the Bellingham Herald reported.

The man, Jason Lovelady, was hiking in the area when he disappeared on Oct. 5. Search and Rescue workers have found no signs of Lovelady, even though they have searched extensively, the Herald reported.

“They searched extensively but there was no real indication he was there,” Undersheriff Jeff Parks told the Herald.

The Elbow Lake trailhead is the start of a 3.5 mile hike that climbs 1,000 feet. Lovelady reportedly went off trail to look for pine cones.


The southern section of Washington’s Pacific Crest Trail.

STEVENSON, Wash. — A Coast Guard helicopter hoisted two stranded hikers to safety from the Pacific Crest Trail in southwestern Washington Tuesday night after a rescue ground team had to turn back because of waist-deep snow and failing daylight, authorities said.

Searchers were continuing to look for two other hikers believed to be missing in southwestern Washington on the 2,660-mile trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada.

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office said the Coast Guard helicopter, out of Astoria, Ore., rescued hikers Matt Margiotta and Kyla Arnold from the trail north of Trout Lake, Wash., Tuesday night.

Margiotta was able to call authorities at 7:30 a.m. Monday to report that they were in snow and may have to be rescued. The pair had been hiking the trail from Mexico and were bound for Canada. Ground searchers were within three-quarters of a mile of the pair Tuesday night when they had to turn back because of waist-deep snow and falling darkness, the office said. That’s when the helicopter was called in.

The condition of the hikers was not immediately known.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office said a search was under way for Portland hiker Kristopher Zitzewitz, 31, in an area north of Cook, Wash., in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Zitzewitz was looking for caves with his hiking partner, Caleb Richie, of Portland, when they became separated at about 2 p.m. Saturday. The search for Zitzewitz will continue Wednesday morning, the office said.

Officials are also trying to locate Alejandrea Wilson, 23, who was reported overdue Monday morning  by her father. She was hiking north on the Pacific Crest Trail, the office said. She last talked with her father at 3 p.m. Friday as she was leaving Trout Lake for White Pass, Wash., the office said.

“Deputies continue to compile additional information to determine her whereabouts and condition at this time,” the sheriff’s office said.

olympic1CLALLAM — A 15-year-old girl visiting Olympic National Park on a school field trip fell 15 feet head-first off a cliff north of the Hoh River and had to be medically evacuated by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, the Coast Guard announced Monday.  She was reported to be in stable condition.

“At approximately 10:46 a.m., watch-standers at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound in Seattle received a request from National Park Service employees to rescue a fallen hiker,” a Coast Guard news release said. “The hiker, an Idaho native visiting the park on a school field trip, had reportedly fallen head-first onto a beach and was in-and-out of consciousness.”

An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew lower a “rescue swimmer” to the site and the girl was hoisted aboard the copter at 1:12 p.m. and taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.