Winter backcountry visitors to the mountains of northeast Oregon will have access to expanded safety advisories, services and training thanks to a crowdfunding drive memorializing a Seattle skier killed last February in an avalanche in the Wallowa Mountains.
Wallowa Avalanche Center, of Joseph, Ore., an information source for winter visitors to the region’s backcountry, has accepted $21,500 from the Shane Coulter Memorial Fund.
Coulter, 30, an aerospace engineer who lived in Seattle, was one of two skiers killed in a group of six backcountry skiers and two guides. Bellingham ski guide Jake Merrill also perished, and two in the group suffered broken bones.
Coulter’s widow, Laurel Coulter, opened the online memorial fund in her husband’s name to generate a source of funds for the avalanche center. “I firmly believe he would have wanted us all to channel our grief from this unfortunate accident into something positive — and we did!” she said in a written release.
Funds will be used to develop reliable avalanche forecasts that skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers may rely upon when planning trips throughout the winter months, according to Keith Stebbings, director of the avalanche center. The new forecasts will use a national color-coded five-level scale, ranging from low to extreme, to classify the avalanche hazard for any given day.