Conditions hampering search for Colchuck avalanche victims

Feb 22, 2023, 7:54 AM | Updated: 9:00 am
avalanche warning...
Avalanche warnings continue due to heavy snow. (KIRO 7 News)
(KIRO 7 News)

We’re learning more about a deadly avalanche in central Washington.

“We don’t have confirmation of this, but we presume the three people have died in this avalanche incident,” Dennis D’Amico forecast director with the Northwest Avalanche Center, said.

“Surprisingly and unfortunately, nobody in the group had a communications device to signal for help immediately,” said Rich Magnussen, EMS Chelan County. “There are a lot of tools out there to check the snow conditions and there are a lot of tools you can purchase.”

He says six people were climbing on the Northeast Couloir above Colchuck Lake when one of them triggered an avalanche. Two of the climbers escaped unharmed.

Snow letting us know winter is far from over

Four were swept away in the snow slide. One of them survived but was injured.

The other three, a 53-year-old man from Connecticut, a 60-year-old woman from New York, and a 66-year-old man from New Jersey, were buried under the snow.

It happened Sunday afternoon, but the Chelan County Sheriff’s office wasn’t notified until Monday when one of the survivors reached Leavenworth.

The climbers had no emergency beacons with them. Cell phone coverage is “nonexistent.”

Magnuson says conditions are too dangerous for search and rescue to recover the bodies.

A couple of people with the Northwest Avalanche Center plan to hike in Wednesday to assess conditions, to see if it’s safe to conduct recovery efforts.

Avalanche dogs and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s helicopter are on standby to help.

Magnuson says winter climbing is a popular sport in the area, but this is the most deadly accident in recent memory.

Right now, the avalanche danger is “high” due to recent storms.

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Conditions hampering search for Colchuck avalanche victims