Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stevens Pass Tragedy

Three skiers lost their lives today near Stevens Pass as they were swept away in an avalanche. Here's an interview with local law enforcement:

Three thoughts about this sad event:

1. The accident did not occur within the boundaries of Stevens Pass. Inside the perimeter of the resort, Stevens Pass takes responsibility for controlling the environment and mitigating risks so that accidents like this do not occur. The people caught up in this avalanche knowingly stepped outside the bounds of the park into the back country, and therefore exponentially increased their risk of accident.

Seattle Times
2. The people involved in the accident, including those who died, were experienced back country skiers with plenty of knowledge and all the right gear. They were well-trained not only in avoiding avalanches but also in surviving them. Based on what we know, they used their training to the best of their ability. They still died. Mother Nature is not always kind.

Seattle Times
3. Deaths like this affect the entire brotherhood of skiers and snowboarders, especially when they occur close to home. I didn't know any of these people but still I feel a personal loss. On the other hand, if it's your day to die, I can't imagine anything better than doing something that you love, right up till the moment it's time to go. These three passionate skiers died quite literally with their skis on and I hope that brings some comfort to their loved ones. Rest in peace.

Seattle Times
{There was a fourth avalanche-related fatality in Washington today. At a different resort, a snowboarder fell to his death off a cliff. I don't know much about the details of that accident but, like the Stevens Pass accident, it was caused by huge overnight snowfalls that created instabilities in the snowpack, leading to avalanches.}

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