Two Snowmobilers Killed In Avalanche In Washington On Saturday

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Esmeralda Peak. Image: Washington Trails Association

According to the Kittitas County Sheriff, two snowmobilers were killed and two others were injured after triggering an avalanche north of Esmeralda Peak, WA. Around noon on Saturday, officials responded to the report of an avalanche. Communication was spotty, due to the fact that it occurred at an elevation of 4,600ft and was in a remote location.

The red pin marks Esmeralda Peak, WA. Image: Google

At the time of the call, one victim was seriously injured and two others were missing. Thankfully, snowmobilers in the area combined efforts and were able to locate all of the victims. Sadly, the avalanche claimed the life of 27-year-old Zach Roundtree of Bonney Lake and 41-year-old James Larson of Buckley.  26-year-old Kyle Ottwell of Bonney Lake was fully buried and air-lifted to Harborview. Then, 27-year-old Ryan Journey of Bonney Lake was partially buried and suffered minor injuries.

US Avalanche Fatalities. Image: CAIC

Press Release:

Kittitas County Press Release


Avalanche claims the lives of two snowmobilers in Kittitas County.

Kittitas County, WA – 03/03/2018 – Of the four men swept in the avalanche, one made it out with minor injuries, one was air lifted with serious injuries, and two died on the mountain.
Members of the Kittitas County Search & Rescue responded to the area North of Esmeralda Peak shortly before noon today in response to an avalanche. Due to the remoteness of the area, 20 miles North East of Cle Elum and above 4,600 feet elevation, communication was very difficult. Witnesses described one serious injury and two missing. Aided by other snowmobilers in the area all of the victims were located.

With the assistance of Yakima County SAR, King County and Chelan County Aircrews, all of the victims have been recovered from the mountain. Sheriff Deputies in the field have reported the following;

Deceased: 27 year old Zach Roundtree of Bonney Lake, full burial

Deceased: 41 year old James Larsen of Buckley, full burial

Injured: 26 year old Kyle Ottwell of Bonney Lake, full burial, air-lifted to Harborview

Injured: 27 year old Ryan Journey of Bonney Lake, partial burial, self-extricated, minor injuries

Per Undersheriff Myers, “On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, there are just no words that will answer all the questions the friends and family have about why their loved ones were taken. Only patience, time and support will lessen that pain. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and we hope that some level of peace comes soon. The avalanche danger in many areas is still high, please be aware of the risks, as this marks the fifth avalanche death in the past 7 days.”

Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at

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