Entries in Avalanche (7)


Five Snowboarders Killed in Colorado Avalanche

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOVELAND PASS, Colo.) -- The bodies of snowboarders killed in an avalanche Saturday near Loveland Pass in Colorado have been recovered, officials tell ABC News.

Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger said that early Saturday afternoon, a group of six snowboarders ventured into an out-of-bounds zone above the Loveland Pass ski area, about 60 miles west of Denver.

The snowboarders triggered an avalanche that measured more than 200 yards wide and nearly 400 yards long, Krueger said. One snowboarder survived, but five others were trapped under about eight feet of snow.

The snowboarder who was rescued was only partially buried, and was able to get himself out and call for help, the sheriff said. The man had no outward signs of injury, was hospitalized, and went home, Krueger said.

The sheriff declined to release the name the survivor, who he said had told officials he was not ready to talk to the media, or the deceased, whose names will not be released until next of kin are notified.

Another snowboarder was killed after triggering an avalanche on Vail Pass on Thursday.

Saturday's avalanche was the second deadliest in the nation since 1950. The worst was in 1962 at Twin Lakes, when seven people were killed, according to statistics compiled by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, or CAIC.

Rescue teams were on the scene into the evening trying to reach the snowboarders, but were up against a heavy snowstorm in the Loveland Pass area, Krueger said.

Avalanche forecasters at the CAIC had predicted “considerable” danger on Saturday in the area where the slide took place, with warnings to carefully evaluate snowpack conditions, choose routes carefully and make conservative decisions before venturing out.

Before Saturday’s incident, nationwide 19 people have been killed this season by avalanches, according to the center.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Woman Dead, Snowshoer Missing After Cascade Mountains Avalanche

Hemera/Thinkstock(SEATTLE, Wash.) -- A woman hiker who was rescued Saturday from the Cascade Mountains in Washington after being buried by an avalanche has died, and one snowshoer remains missing.

The first avalanche took place around noon at Granite Mountain, knocking three men who were on snowshoes to the ground. Two emerged injured from the snow, however the third, a 60-year-old man, whose identity has not been released, did not.

"They started out, everything's fine, they're in a gully-type area - when they're hit by the avalanche," Sgt. Katie Larson, spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff's Office, told ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV.

Larson said one of the men was carrying a GPS device, which showed they were carried 1,200 feet down the mountain at speeds of up to 53 miles per hour.

One of the rescued snowshoers has a shoulder injury, while the other injured his hamstring, she said.

A team of 100 rescuers, some with search dogs, fanned out in the area on Saturday to search for the missing snowshoer, but heavy snowfall and fading daylight hampered the search and rescue mission, forcing the teams to retreat for the night.

The search has been suspended indefinitely due to poor weather conditions, the King County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Sunday.

The second avalanche occurred at Red Mountain, a half hour after the first, striking 12 snowshoers and a woman who was walking nearby.

The group of hikers were able to rescue themselves, but realized the woman was missing. After searching for and locating the woman, the hikers dug her out of about 5 feet of snow. She was not moving and somewhat conscious when they rescued her. Search and rescue teams arrived in over two hours, who loaded the woman onto a sled and hiked her through blizzard-like conditions through the mountains.

Medics at the base then confirmed that the woman had died. She has not yet been identified.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Woman Revived After Avalanche Burial in Utah Backcountry

Obtained by ABC News(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A 43-year-old backcountry skier revived after she was buried in an avalanche is now in fair condition at University of Utah Hospital, hospital officials said.

On Saturday, Jan. 12, Elizabeth Malloy and a male friend were in Millcreek Canyon, Utah, a popular spot near Salt Lake City with no designated ski resorts but well-known for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

At approximately 5 p.m., police believe Malloy and her friend triggered an avalanche while backcountry skiing.

"When the avalanche happened, she was completely buried," Lt. Justin Hoyal of the Utah Unified Police of Greater Salt Lake told ABC News.  "The male party that she was with had the necessary equipment.  He was able to locate her and get her out."

Once the male dug out Malloy from the snow, he noticed she was unconscious, Hoyal said.

"She was not breathing," Hoyal added.  "He was able to resuscitate her to where she was conscious and speaking.  There is no cell service in that canyon and, fortunately, they were in an area where he was able to move and get a signal and call for help."

When the rescue team located the two via helicopter at approximately 8 p.m., they were 1.7 miles from the trailhead and approximately 9,000 feet in elevation on the slope.  At that point, both were air transported to the bottom of the canyon and taken to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City.  Malloy's condition initially was classified as serious, but has been upgraded to fair, hospital officials said.

According to the Utah Avalanche Center, the avalanche measured 800 feet vertically and 700 feet in width.

"Seven hundred feet wide is over two football fields, and I would think that [in] anything that is that wide and several feet deep you would feel like a toothpick in a hurricane," said Craig Gordon of the Utah Avalanche Center.  "That is a large piece of snow.  The lady that was caught in that avalanche is lucky to be alive."

In backcountry skiing areas that are not controlled, Hoyal said, there is a high risk of an avalanche.

"One of the big messages here is people don't have necessary avalanche equipment and can't get them out," Hoyal said.  "It takes us time to get up to the backcountry and get to them.  In this particular incident, this gentleman was prepared, had the necessary equipment and, essentially, saved her life."

When skiing in undesignated areas, people should be prepared and check with the Utah Avalanche Center before heading out, Hoyal said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Washington Skier Buried Alive in Avalanche Saved by Quick Thinking

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A quick-thinking 20-year-old Washington skier who was buried beneath an avalanche for up to 15 minutes managed to keep breathing until rescuers arrived by scooping snow away from her mouth.

Emily Anderson was skiing with a group at Crystal Mountain in Enumclaw, Wash., on Monday when more than 3 feet of snow cut loose, triggering an avalanche.  She says when she looked down she saw the snow moving strangely beneath her.

"I saw, like, a crack, and, you know, you hear a little, a little pop when it starts to go.  I realized that it was an avalanche and it just pushed me into a tree.  And, all of a sudden, was encased and I couldn't move," Anderson told ABC's Good Morning America.

When she became buried, her first thought, above everything else, was how to breathe.  Anderson's left hand could move just enough to get the snow away from her mouth.

"My head was down, facing down, a little bit and so I, like, had to kind of scoop the snow away.  I breathed in snow a little bit -- that was scary," she said.  "I was kind of in a sitting position, and my right arm was stuck out…. to my side … [I] couldn't move it."

Then a second wave hit her -- a wave of fear that she might not be found.

"I felt very alone and I felt, you know, like -- this could be it!" she said.

During Anderson's ordeal, she was screaming, but buried under the snow, no one could hear her.

Luckily, a friend saw it happen and called for help.  The ski patrol was there within minutes and began poking through the snow with long poles trying to find her.

Newman, a 4-year-old avalanche rescue dog, was there, too.

"Avalanche dogs are the best way to find somebody like Emily.  This woman is lucky.  The avalanche statistics say that once you're buried without a trace to the surface, your chance of surviving that -- statistically -- is one out of three," Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol Director Paul Baugher said.

Fifteen minutes later, she felt the poles poking through.  They found her, and dug her out.

"I'm very lucky!  Everything about it went my way -- that's for sure," Anderson said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Buried Alive in Avalanche Rescued by Fellow Skiers

Hemera/Thinkstock(CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, Wash.) -- An experienced skier was buried alive on Crystal Mountain in Washington this week when more than 3 feet of snow triggered an avalanche in the area where she was skiing.

Emily Anderson was buried beneath the avalanche for up to 15 minutes, according to Crystal Mountain ski patrol director Paul Baugher.

Baugher said that the area had received 40 inches of snow in about 35 hours Sunday and Monday, and when a small section of terrain was opened to expert skiers, dozens of ski patrols and avalanche control staff were sent to the site.

"In a big storm like this we have a little place, a little pocket like this ... and this person and her party triggered this small little pocket in this innocuous place," Baugher said.

"Because of a lot of good things, you had not only the ski patrol, which was out there doing avalanche control work, but they were pre-positioned with equipment. We always watch while the first skiing gets done ... just in case there's an 'oops,' because you can never get the risk to zero."

When Anderson was overtaken by the rushing snow, her fellow skiers realized she was missing and used a cell phone to call the ski patrol dispatcher, a phone number they had saved before embarking on their adventure.

Within five minutes a ski patrol member showed up to assist the skiers in searching for their friend, Baugher said.

Baugher said that ski patrol members were specially trained in where to look for survivors of an avalanche immediately after it occurs. The patrol member instructed Anderson's friends in how to use their poles to search specific areas for signs of her.

"We had a guy on the scene in five minutes, and he was able to organize the good inbound powder skiers, who had collapsible probe poles, and they figured out where to start probing, and then, boom, this gal was found," Baugher said. "She spent maybe 10 to 15 minutes under the snow. She came out just great, she really did."

Anderson was not carrying an avalanche beacon with her at the time, although members of her party were.

Two other skiers were partially buried in the avalanche but were able to free themselves, Baugher said.

Anderson skied down the mountain herself after her ordeal.

"It was a great outcome because we were prepared and the guys that ski this terrain were prepared too. They carried all the right equipment and kept everyone in sight, and they knew the number. It was a great combination," Baugher said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Skiers Found Dead in Wyoming After Avalanche

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOOSE, Wyo.) -- The desperate search for two experienced backcountry skiers lost in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park has come to an end.

On Thursday, friends Steve Romeo and Chris Onufer were found dead after being swept thousands of feet downhill in an avalanche that started near the 11,355-foot summit of Ranger Peak.  The pair had been missing since Wednesday.

Onufer's friend Michelle Smith told ABC News skiing was a huge part of his life.

“He’d want to go out there every day rain or shine.  He was super inspirational.  He had so much energy for the mountain and he fed that energy to everyone around him,” she said.

Romeo and Onufer are now the 26th and 27th victims to be killed by avalanches so far this season.  For perspective, on average 25 people are killed in U.S. avalanches every year, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

John Snook, an avalanche forecaster at the center, explains why this year has been especially dangerous for backcountry skiers.

“We had a very dry start to the season, so the early season snow -- which was very shallow -- turned into a very weak foundation.  Now, we’re putting new snow on top of that.  We’re putting a very heavy load on top of a very weak foundation which is creating very unstable conditions,” Snook said.  “So this year we are seeing more fatalities as a result.”

And it’s not just novice skiers that are dying.  A few weeks ago, five expert level skiers were caught in an avalanche near Stevens Pass, Wash.  Three were buried and killed.

“Even experienced skiers, if they don’t pay attention to what’s going on and stay focused to the unstable conditions, they can get themselves in trouble as well,” Snook says.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family Cheats Death after Avalanche Crushes Their Vehicle in Wash. State

The Parker Family(SEATTLE) -- A Washington State family's spring break road trip turned into a nightmare encounter with an avalanche on Wednesday.

As Randall Kent Parker, his wife Roxanne and their two young daughters were driving down Interstate 90 near Seattle, a wall of snow and ice slammed into their SUV with such force that it crushed their vehicle and nearly pushed them off the edge of the road.

The Parkers, who live in Pasco, Wash., said it felt as if dynamite had exploded inside their car. Amazingly, all survived with just minor injuries and today they say they're lucky to be alive.

"We were just a couple hours from home, driving over the mountains. The next thing I know, our world had changed forever," said Kent, who was behind the wheel.

The vehicle was surrounded by three to four feet of heavy snow and ice, pushing the car sideways and through a concrete retaining wall.

The impact shattered the windshield, crumpled the roof and caused the air bags to deploy. So much snow entered the vehicle that it filled the car's seats and pushed snow and glass into the riders' mouths.

"I heard my wife. It wasn't a scream, but it was just a yell as everything caved in," Kent Parker said.

The couple's two young daughters, ages three and seven, were sitting in the backseat when the avalanche struck. The children were buried by the snow, and their father rushed to dig them out. Miraculously, both were unharmed.

While the accident happened on a remote mountain road, it didn't take long for help to arrive. The Washington State Patrol was on the scene within minutes, rescuing Roxanne who was bleeding in the front seat. She is now recovering at home; incredibly, she only had minor injuries, including a sore chest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News radio 

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