29-year-old Kip Rand from Joseph, OR died in an avalanche in the Wallowa mountains of eastern OR yesterday. He died of his injuries before rescuers could reach him.
According to the Wallowa County Sheriff, Kip was the coordinator of the Wallowa Avalanche Center in northeast Oregon.
Details are fuzzy at this point, but here is what we know:
- The deceased was skiing with another man who escaped the avalanche.
- Search and rescue teams will be recovering the body today.
- Some backcountry skiers reached the surviving skier and escorted him to safety yesterday.
“If it wasn’t for the backcountry skiers it would be a lot harder for search and rescue to reach people in some of these higher altitude, deep snow rescues we have to do from time to time.” – Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers
This was the 24st avalanche death in the USA this year including 12 in January alone. 3 have died in avalanches in Alaska this winter and that total will likely rise to 4 when the doctor mentioned below is accounted for.
Last winter, the USA saw only 11 avalanche deaths.
There have been 9 avalanche deaths in Canada this year including 2 killed in separate avalanches near Golden, B.C. last week.
WALLOWA AVALANCHE CENTER PRESS RELEASE:
Statement from the Wallowa Avalanche Center: March 9, 2016
Kip Rand was killed in an avalanche in the late afternoon on March 8, 2016. The accident occurred near Chief Joseph Mountain, west of Joseph, Oregon. As details emerged late last night and this morning this tragic news reached all of us at the avalanche center. We are simply stunned with sorrow.
Kip was out enjoying some backcountry skiing with an out-of-town friend on a welcome day off from the demanding duties at the avalanche center.
Kip’s commitment to the avalanche center and avalanche safety was immediately evident as he settled into his new position as Director of our organization in November of last year. He came to us with extensive avalanche training, many years of experience as a guide, avalanche educator and pro observer. Most of all, he came to us with a humble, collected and thoughtful demeanor as he spoke and shared his knowledge.
Kip was on a path to grow our non-agency, non-profit center and further increase avalanche awareness within our region. He continued our long standing policy of soliciting guidance from the National Avalanche Center, the American Avalanche Association and nearby larger established avalanche centers as we redesigned product and services to match our funding reserves and personnel.
We are humbled and appreciative of the support and encouragement received from the community and avalanche professionals around the nation.
Details on the exact cause of the accident are still unknown. Avalanche professionals from outside our region will assist us in preparing the accident report. The published report will be available on avalanche.org.