An avalanche caught a ski mountaineer as he was ascending the north face of 9,130-foot Mt. Shuksan, WA yesterday morning, May 14th, 2014. He was swept down the mountain 2,000 feet and did not survive the avalanche.
Mt. Shuksan is located adjacent to the Mt. Baker ski resort in Washington state and is considered a classic Cascade Range climb.
Two men from Seattle, WA were climbing the north face of Shuksan at about 7,000 feet when the avalanche struck. One man was swept away while the other narrowly avoided being caught in the avalanche.
Both men are reported to be experienced mountaineers and skiers. They were wearing crampons and ascending at the time of the incident with their skis on their packs. They were not roped together at the time of the avalanche.
The surviving man hiked down until he was able to get cell phone reception and called 911 at 10:45am. He stayed on mountain before skiing down in the afternoon after the perceived avalanche danger had passed.
Rescue helicopters searched for the missing climber from the air and found him at 3:30pm. Rescuers could not retrieve his body due to unstable snow conditions. They hope to recover the body this week.
Heat is likely to blame for the unstable snow in the region. A climber fell and died on Mt. Hood this week as well and his death has been attributed to high temperatures in the alpine. His body has also not been recovered to to instability in the snowpack.
Temperatures of up to 75F were reported in high alpine of the Cascade Range on Wednesday causing high avalanche danger.