Skier Killed in Avalanche in Washington Yesterday Under HIGH Avalanche Danger & No Avalanche Gear

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Adam Roberts. image: adam roberts facebook page
Adam Roberts. image: adam roberts facebook page

The Yakima County Sheriff’s office and the White Pass Ski Area’s marketing office are both reporting that 31-year-old Adam Roberts of Randle, WA died in an avalanche just out of bounds of White Pass ski area near Mt. Rainier, WA yesterday.

Avalanche danger was rated as HIGH in Washington yesterday and today after 2 feet of new snow fell in the Cascades on Monday.

It appears that neither Adam nor his partner were equip with full avalanche gear.  A NWAC report states that Adam had a transceiver but not a shovel nor probe.  Adam was found using the “spot probe” method, not using a transceiver which could lead one to believe his transceiver wasn’t on/functioning at the time of the accident.

Ski patrol recovered Adam’s body under 6 feet of snow after the Yakima County sheriff deputies used the signal from his cell phone to identify a search area according to Sgt. Mike Russell.

This was the 3rd avalanche death in the USA this season.

video of Adam Roberts describing what matters in life.


“The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a Randle man that occurred Tuesday while he was skiing at White Pass.

The Sheriff’s Office responded at 6:09 p.m. Tuesday to White Pass after being notified by White Pass Ski Patrol of a death.

The man, whose name has not yet been released pending notification of next of kin, was identified by the Sheriff’s Office as a 31-year-old from Randle.

The man was reportedly skiing outside set boundaries in the ski area when “avalanche activity” was reported, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Ski Patrol found the man dead in the area of the reported avalanche.

The incident is under investigation.” – Yakima County, WA Sheriff’s Office today

Adam Roberts hucking. image: Scott Rinckenberger
Adam Roberts hucking. image: Scott Rinckenberger

Adam was reported missing at 5:30pm yesterday by the White Pass Ski Patrol.

Adam’s body was located at 6,000′ of elevation near the White Pass ski area yesterday evening.
“He was skiing with a friend.  They had made a similar run earlier in the day. They headed out one more time. His friend took a different line, skiing down and out with no problem. Adam triggered an avalanche.  His friend was able to call for help and reached the Ski Patrol.” – Kathleen Goyette, White Pass Ski Area spokeswoman told the Bellingham Herald

Adam was reported to have been an experienced backcountry skier who did a lot for the local community.

Adam was from the town of Randle, WA just west of White Pass ski area and was well known in the area.  He had been living in Bellingham and attending Fairhaven College at Western Washington University studying journalism, according to his Facebook page.  He lived very sustainably in his Toyota pickup truck.

Adam Roberts ripping it. image: jason hummel photography
Adam Roberts ripping it. image: jason hummel photography

“We’ve known him since he was a little kid.  He had an amazing passion for the outdoors. He will be missed.” –  Kathleen Goyette, White Pass Ski Area spokeswoman told the Bellingham Herald

It’s very clear that Adam was a very sick skier.  Check out the images on his facebook page.


Adam Roberts. image: adam roberts facebook page
Adam Roberts. image: adam roberts facebook page

Professional photographer Jason Hummel had this to say about Adam Roberts:

“On my desk I have a quote taped there. It comes from a fortune cookie. It says, “A man’s dreams are an index to his greatness.”

I look at it every day.

My friend Adam Roberts dreamed of snow. It was his index to life. He told me how he used to stand in the rain at five in the morning and hitchhike to Mount Baker, even on the worst of days. Imagine that. He did it day after day after day, nearly 7 days a week.
Adam loved skiing.

I met Adam when he was a kid at White Pass Ski Area. At the time I was with another friend of mine, Ben and my brother Josh. Adam would follow us around and after Ben passed away whitewater kayaking, Adam had grown into an adult. We began to ski together. We’d hunt out new lines and explore the backcountry. Thousands of runs that were among the best of my life.

At those times, Adam’s energy was explosive. He would never tire. It was one of the many reasons I nicknamed him the “Adam Bomb”. Of course, if you knew Adam, you know the other reasons I called him that. Remember how messy he was? I remember on day 4 of the Isolation Traverse stopping for a drink of water on a tour and next thing I knew I looked over and he had his boots off and everything in his pack was strewn in a ten foot circumference around him. At the time, I was pissed. We’d been stuck in terrible weather in the tent for 2 days and our weather window was short. I yelled at him and he laughed and said, “What, I was hungry and my feet were wet.” I’d shrug and laugh.

He was the Adam Bomb. What could you do?

It was when I pulled Adam onto those big springtime backcountry ski adventures that I saw the light spark in him for those endeavors. He was hooked. I love spring in the Pacific Northwest because the snow is stable.

But Adam loved the powder. He had a mind that was stuck in turbo and self gratuitous in the extreme. He was a dangerous friend to have in the mountains. Over and again I’d beg him to be safer. I’d sit him down and tell him to think about the consequences.

I did that very thing one last time. We were standing behind my RV on Monday, the day before he passed. I told him to “Be safe.”

His last words to me were, “Yeah, I will.”

I jumped in my RV and drove away. And today I find out Adam has passed on. He passed on the very line we skied the day before the storm came in and dumped 2 feet of snow. It’s only a few hundred feet long, a nothing slope, but it ends in a creek. We always avoid it after new snow, because it’s the 3rd worst place to be in the backcountry around White Pass when avy conditions are high.

But like I said, Adam was always stuck in turbo. I always wondered how I could find the red button on Adam, but from the time I came to know him, his finger never lifted from the green button.

On our last ski run together he begged me to go into the backcountry, even though the lifts were closing and I was tired.
“Just one more run!” Adam begged me. In that one chair ride, he must’ve asked me 20 times. I eventually broke. I always did and he knew it.

That run would be our last turns together. They weren’t fantastic, but I had a blast. Sadly, a day later in that very same spot, it’d be his last turns, ever. He’d be buried in the very powder he idolized.

Deep down I know my last words to him were among his final thoughts and it breaks my heart. I wish he’d listened, but everyone that knew Adam knows that Adam was always ‘all in’. On those good days, it’s what made him the best guy to be around.

But today is the worst day. Adam’s no longer here. I’ll miss that enthusiasm. He always had good things to say to me. He bolstered me up when I was down. That’s what a good friend does and while Adam was flawed, I always sucked up my frustration and remembered, “It’s Adam. This is who he is.” I always gave him the benefit of the doubt because he was a loving guy. He was passionate. He was honest. He’d say, “Jason, your the best telemark skier I know,” even though I know I wasn’t. He was a friend.

He was the Adam Bomb.” – Jason Hummel, today

Adam living the dream in his truck. image: adam roberts facebook page
Adam living the dream in his truck. image: adam roberts facebook page

There have been two other avalanche deaths in the USA this season.


New Details on Fatal Avalanche at Mt. Rose, Nevada

Details Emerge in Avalanche Death of Idaho Skier


Adam Roberts' truck and home. He was living the dream. image: adam roberts facebook page
Adam Roberts’ truck and home. He was living the dream. image: adam roberts facebook page

Please always check

before heading into the backcountry.

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13 thoughts on “Skier Killed in Avalanche in Washington Yesterday Under HIGH Avalanche Danger & No Avalanche Gear

    1. John S. Have some class. No. 1, You were not there. No. 2, if you read the prepared report, you will see what avi gear was found. The use of profanity to express your misdirected anger does nothing for the tragic loss of life. The reporter was simply reporting the facts.

  1. That was really well written Jason. I didn’t know Adam but now feel like I have a bit of understanding of who he was and what drove his passions in life. Thanks for that. And lets all “be safe” out there each and every day. SIP Adam

  2. Not the time or place, but I’m also not disagreeing. We seem to be losing a lot of friends in the NW in “side country.”

  3. Your title is inflammatory. You may want to tone it down a notch. He was skiing sidecountry. We’ve all been there

    1. “We’ve all been there.” With all due respect, we shouldn’t all go there; that is kind of the point.

      If avalanche terrain isn’t controlled, avalanche hazard makes no distinction between sidecountry, backcountry, or in-bounds; it must be treated with the same degree of respect. I dislike the term “sidecountry” or “slackcountry” because it obscures the fact that in avalanche terms it is backcountry, regardless of how close to the ski area it is.

      The statistics are really clear: partner rescue is the best chance of survival. Without knowing the details I can’t speculate on whether it would have made a difference in this case, but the odds were already reduced drastically by not carrying the equipment that provides the best opportunity for survival.

      This is a terribly sad situation for his family, friends, and especially his partner that day. The fact it was only “sidecountry” shouldn’t influence decisions when entering uncontrolled avalanche terrain.

    2. Not sure how to interpret the meaning of “He was skiing sidecountry.”
      The labels we put on terrain have no meaning to the mountain, when it sends down an avalanche on a High Risk day. It’s no less deadly because we’re near the boundary fence. Or because we’ve all been there, or we’re a fantastically talented skiier. etc.

      I’m trying to say, let’s all look out for the infamous decision making logical fallacies, that trick us into playing a riskier game than we realized.

      My heartfelt sympathy all who grieve in the loss of of this vibrant, beautiful young life.

      1. This isn’t about snow, decisions, boundaries or risk. Those topics can be covered later at the safety meeting. It’s about the loss of one of the truly talented, enthusiastic and much loved friends of the skier community. Sorry for your loss, Richard. May he rest in peace on the mountain he obviously loved more than life.

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