Washington Avalanche Buries 5 Snowmobilers & Kills 1 On Sunday

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The avalanche where the fatality occurred. Image: Kittitas County Sheriff

According to Kittitas County Officials, 5 individuals were snowmobiling on Stampede Pass, WA when an avalanche completely buried 3 of them, partially buried 2, and killed 1. At the time of the incident, they were 16 miles west of Cle Elum. The group was taking a lunch break, when the slope above them broke away and completely buried 3 members of the group. Along with that, two others were partially buried.  

The Red Pin marks Stampede Pass, WA. Image: Google

One of the completely buried individuals was found unconscious, but they were able to successfully revive him. Sadly, 32-year-old Joseph Simenstad was killed after he was completely buried by the avalanche and suffered extensive trauma. His wife was also buried by the slide, but she walked away with only minor injuries.

US Avalanche Fatalities In 2017-18. Image: CAIC

Kittitas County Press Release:

Kittitas County Press Release


Avalanche claims the life of 32 year old Issaquah man

Kittitas County, WA – 02/25/2018 – Members from the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue responded to the Stampede Pass area this afternoon when 5 snowmobilers were swept in an avalanche while eating lunch at the base of the slope.

The group, friends from Western Washington, were sledding in the area of Mirror Lake, which is located South of I-90 and Lake Keechelus. They stopped for a break and to have some lunch when the slope above them broke free. When the slide stopped, 32 year old Joseph Simenstad, his wife, 30 year old Sabel Simenstad of Issaquah and 24 year old Josh Winter of Snohomish were fully buried. 29 year old Tyler Johnson of Renton and another man, whose name is not known at this time, were partially buried. Working with others in the area, all were dug out. Josh Winter was unconscious when recovered but was able to be revived. Mrs. Simenstad suffered minor injuries, but her husband, Joseph, had suffered extensive trauma and could not be revived.

Per Undersheriff Myers;

“On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Simenstad as they work through the loss of their loved one. We would like to remind those of you who recreate in the back country to be cautious of the past and current conditions, as they can change rapidly and without warning. Avalanche conditions are often the result of previous weather, sometimes from weeks prior. We encourage you to research and educate yourselves from the many sources available. Just Google ‘Avalanche Danger’.”

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