A woman found buried in snow following an avalanche in the Washington state portion of the Cascades has died, while the search for a man who went missing after a separate avalanche in the West Coast mountain range has been suspended.
The woman, whose age or name was not released, was found face down in five feet of snow by a group of 12 snowshoers, King County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Katie Larson told the Seattle Times.
Rescuers hiked 2 ½ hours in an effort to reach the woman, whom the snowshoers tried to keep warm, and lifted her onto a sled to be carried away off Red Mountain, the paper reported. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Meanwhile, the search for a 60-year-old man described by Larson as “a very experienced hiker” was suspended due to poor visibility. The man went missing after an avalanche on Granite Mountain.
“Until conditions improve, we’ve suspended the search indefinitely,” Larson told the Times.
Both avalanches occurred on Saturday, with the Granite Mountain avalanche preceding the one on Red Mountain by a half hour.
Two other snowshoers were injured in the Granite Mountain avalanche, according to KOMO in Seattle.
"They started out, everything's fine, they're in a gully-type area - when they're hit by the avalanche," Larson told the news station. "One of the climbers tells me that they had no warning. The avalanche, at this point, from what he's describing, is 30 feet wide, eight feet deep and about a quarter-mile long.”
Another 13 snowshoers were traversing Red Mountain when they also experienced an avalanche.
Hiker Chris Sound described the conditions for KOMO.
“I thought I was dying,” he said. “I couldn’t see anything.”
Another Red Mountain avalanche survivor, Won Shin, said he saw snow all around him.
“The only thing I thought about was just, ‘Get out of here,’ ” Shin, 56, of Mukilteo, Wash., told the Times. “I’ve never felt anything like that.”
The avalanches were caused by heavy snow that battered the Cascades from a weather system moving from the Gulf of Alaska.