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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

April 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Hats off to rescuers working through avalanche dangers

Update 12:23 p.m.: The woman who died in Saturday’s second avalanche has been identified as Dr. Joy Yu, a naturopathic physician in Bellevue. More details in this Seattle Times news story.

Earlier:

Two avalanches near Seattle over the weekend offer a bleak reminder to outdoor enthusiasts: You can’t be cautious enough. This time of year, the combination of warm and cold weather with snow creates dangerous conditions in the mountains.

The Seattle Times’ Sara Jean Green and Linda Shaw report the search for 61-year-old Mitch Hungate, a Renton dentist and avid outdoorsman  is suspended due to dangerous conditions at Granite Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass. A second avalanche Saturday at Red Mountain claimed the life of a female snowshoer who has not been identified.

A man with King County Search and Rescue runs toward scene of avalanche at exit 47 along I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass, Sat. April 13, 2013. (Photo by Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

A man with King County Search and Rescue runs toward scene of avalanche at exit 47 along I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass, Sat. April 13, 2013. (Photo by Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

More than 100 rescuers responded to the incidents, risking their own lives in “unstable” conditions. According to the report,  “The search for Hungate was suspended about 8 p.m. Saturday and did not resume Sunday.” Their efforts are expected to resume once conditions improve, according to an Associated Press report.

We commend those rescuers for their training and courage.

Meanwhile, the King County Sheriff’s Office is warning people to stay away from the area. That’s solid advice backed by forecasts that indicate “moderate” risk of avalanches in the Snoqualmie area Monday. The warnings were “high” on Saturday.

Sometimes, no level of experience is enough to detect or survive a an avalanche. In February 2012, four expert skiers and snowboarders were killed at Stevens Pass. Last December, The New York Times produced a groundbreaking multimedia project outlining how that fatal disaster unfolded, including visuals that explain how these slides occur.

It’s sad to see more people lose their lives this year. The amount of resources and people power required to respond to these incidents is also overwhelming.

Be careful out there, folks. Heed caution. Come home safe.

Comments | Topics: avalanche, disaster, outdoors

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