5 deaths in a week spike in avalanches in the Cascade Mountains

first_imgThe state of Washington averages five avalanche deaths every two years.This year, there have been five avalanche deaths here just in the past week.Those recent avalanches claimed the lives of snowmobilers and snowshoers who were out adventuring in the central Cascade Mountains, in both King and Kittitas counties, where heavy snow, rain and wide temperature swings have made for unstable snows conditions.The five people who died this past week all were involved in activities known to cause avalanches in the past.Two teenagers from Bellevue, boys ages 17 and 18, were buried in an avalanche while snowshoeing in the backcountry near the Alepental-Snow Lake area, said King County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott. The pair vanished Feb. 25 amid heavy snowfall in an area with a high avalanche danger. Both had avalanche beacons and appeared to be properly equipped. They were identified as Niko Suokko, 18, and Declan Ervin, 17.The same day, in the backcountry near Stampede Pass in Kittitas County, a group of five snowmobilers had stopped to eat lunch beneath a slope when a ridge above them let go, burying three of them totally and partially burying the other two. Joseph Simenstad, 32, from Issaquah, died from his injuries.Then, on Saturday, two snowmobilers died and two others were injured when an avalanche swept down a slope near Esmeralda Peak in Kittitas County.The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said crews responded to an avalanche report to the area before noon Saturday and found the four victims with the help of other snowmobilers in the area.last_img read more