Three Skiers Dead In Washington Avalanche

Authorities said three men have died in an avalanche in an out-of-bounds area near a popular Washington state ski area. Other skiers who had been reported missing were accounted for on Sunday.

Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff's Office confirmed to msnbc.com the deaths of three people. The skiers were believed to be in their 30s and 40s, experienced and well-prepared.

Other skiers in the group managed to dig out the men and performed CPR, to no avail.

According to King5.com, one skier, a woman, was wearing a device used to provide air if swept up in an avalanche. She survived.

West said the slide occurred in an out-of-bounds area near Stevens Pass ski resort in the Cascade Mountains, about 13.2 miles east of the town of Skykomish.

In a separate incident in the Cascades on Sunday, a snowboarder died after plunging off a cliff, West said. According to the Seattle Times, the snowboarder, age 41, triggered an avalanche that pushed him over a cliff.

The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center on Sunday issued a warning for high avalanche danger for areas above 5,000 feet. The elevation of the avalanche wasn't immediately clear.

At mid-afternoon, the temperate at the base of the ski resort was 24 degrees, with light winds and good visibility. The temperature at the top of the mountain was 22 degrees, according to the resort's website.

The site also said Sunday was a "popular powder day" at the resort, with 14 inches of fresh snow falling overnight.

Stevens Pass, an 80-mile drive from Seattle, is among the most popular outdoor recreation areas in the state. People flock there to go cross-country, back-country and downhill skiing, as well as snowshoeing and backpacking.

It's been a deadly winter in Washington state's mountains. Four people disappeared in vicious storms while hiking and climbing on Mount Rainier last month.

Across the West, there had been 13 avalanche deaths this season as of Feb. 16, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks avalanche deaths in the U.S.

Avalanche deaths are more common in the backcountry than at ski resorts. Out of about 900 avalanche deaths nationwide since the 1950-1951 winter, 32 were within terrain that was open for riding at ski resorts, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.


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  • by Tracker on Feb 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM
    It's bigger news than covering a dead druggie for a week. It's actually referred to as "side country" and not "back country". Being an avid skiier i'm glad WITN put it on their page.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 20, 2012 at 09:23 AM
    If they were "experienced and well prepared", shouldn't they have known better than to go into an "out of bounds area"?
    • reply
      by JC on Feb 21, 2012 at 12:45 PM in reply to
      I knew one of the men that died, his name was Jim Jack. You see on the west coast they have this stuff called POWDER SNOW, sometimes you have to go off trail to get some good turns in, they were all wearing beacons, and skiing one at a time, the slide broke above them and swept them down. Very sad, they were experts and I wouldn't hesitate to follow and have on many occasions. Jim Jack was a wonderful person and skier and died doing what he loved.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 20, 2012 at 05:32 AM
    Why is this news here in ENC? Slow News day?
    • reply
      by Audra - SoCal on Feb 20, 2012 at 09:08 AM in reply to
      Because NC isn't an island.
    • reply
      by Snow News Day on Feb 20, 2012 at 09:51 AM in reply to
      LOL...but seriously, people die all the time doing risky, dangerous things. Bungie jumping, Surfing, Skiing, Deep Sea diving, etc. . I wonder do the people in Colorado hear about all our shark attacks in ENC?
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM in reply to Snow News Day
        I often wonder why people would go doing stuff like this. Skydiving: I could understand doing that if your plane was crashing. Deep sea diving: If God wanted me swimming in the ocean, He would have given me fins and gills. I'll stick with the pool...no carnivorous critters there. Mountain climbing: If God wanted me climbing mountains, He would have put stairs on them. I mean, I understand looking for a thrill, and I understand that everyday life is fraught with risks. I just don't see a compelling need to seriously jeopardize my life for nothing more than an adrenaline rush.
        • reply
          by Audra - SoCal on Feb 20, 2012 at 01:41 PM in reply to
          Skiing isn't really the problem. I learned when I was about 30, and I enjoyed it - downhill, not cross-country. When people ignore the warnings and rules however, and go out of bounds... the risk goes up tremendously. As to why people like to do these things, for the same reason as anything else in life. Sitting in your house all day isn't what we're intended for in the least. There is a beautiful world out there to see and experience. I'm not into the idea of jeopardizing my life either - you couldn't talk me into skydiving - but I'm not about to tell someone else they can't. To each their own. The stairs on mountains thing is just silly, really come on. lol Modern conveniences are not the only reason to do something. ;-)
        • reply
          by Mr.H on Feb 21, 2012 at 01:06 PM in reply to
          God didn't put wheels on your feet and yet you get in a car and drive to different places. You'll stick with the pool...no carnivorous critters there. Did you know that more deaths from drowning happen in the home, then at the beach? Same goes for falls..Life is to be enjoyed God in his infinite wisdom allows for safe recreation. Within certain bounds this would include skiing which originally started out as a means of transportation. Then became a sport. These people did known better than to go into an out of bounds area. And they payed dearly for it.
      • reply
        by Audra - SoCal on Feb 20, 2012 at 01:42 PM in reply to Snow News Day
        Believe it or not, news reports are not on lockdown to state borders. All regions do include information about other parts of the country. Some people actually even appreciate having knowledge about what is going on in the rest of the world outside their county.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 20, 2012 at 06:42 PM in reply to Audra - SoCal
          Audra: I said the "stairs on mountains" thing in jest.
    • reply
      by JC on Feb 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM in reply to
      go outside of that county bubble once and a while, theres a lot out there...
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