Avalanche center director killed in avalanche while skiing in Oregon

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Kip Rand (Photo: Wallowa Avalanche Center)

(CNN) — A man who dedicated his life to teaching others how to survive severe winter weather and taught avalanche awareness has died in an avalanche.

Kip Rand, the 29-year-old director of the the Wallowa Avalanche Center, died of internal injuries before rescuers were able to reach him.

He died on Tuesday while backcountry skiing with a friend in the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, the center said in a statement released Thursday.

“As details emerged late last night and this morning this tragic news reached all of us at the avalanche center. We are simply stunned with sorrow,” the center said on its website.

Rand was on a ski tour of Sacajawea Peak, the Hurwal Divide and Chief Joseph Mountain with his friend when a large cornice break started an avalanche and swept Rand down a narrow chute, officials said.

Chief Joseph (Photo: Wallowa Avalanche Center)

Chief Joseph (Photo:  Wallowa Avalanche Center)


The friend escaped and found Rand, who was unresponsive and partially buried under several feet of snow, Wallowa Avalanche Center board Member Michael Hatch said in a statement. The friend immediately initiated a GPS locator device, called for help and then performed CPR on his friend, Hatch said.

Rand was unresponsive for two minutes before the friend revived him. They walked out of the avalanche debris to a safe area and waited for rescue.

Rand died due to internal injuries from the fall at about 8 p.m. while waiting for the Wallowa County search-and-rescue team to arrive, Hatch said.

The team got there about two hours later, just behind some local back-country skiers who were assisting.

“He [Kip] had an infectious passion for the mountains and he so enjoyed being able to share his knowledge and love for wild places with so many of us over the years,” Hatch said.