Hiker Dies on Aasgard Pass
I could tell from Rob's email that he feared the worst, but still hoped the outcome could turn positive. It didn't. Late last night, the woman was found dead, and her body was recovered by a helicopter. The Chelan County Sheriff's office referred to the cut the woman slipped into as a crevasse, and there was a large volume of water running under the snowpack. Those are the details we have at this time. You can read about the accident here in the Wenatchee World. It's a tragedy, and our hearts go out to this woman's boyfriend and family. The hiker has been identified as Julia A. Rutherford from Eatonville, and she was just 21 years old.
Accidents can happen in the backcountry at any time, in a variety of conditions. Fortunately, hiker fatalities are extremely rare. But we feel the need to beat ourselves, and everyone else, over the head with safety warnings this year.
It is not a typical July in Washington's mountains.
There's a lot of snow out there. There's so much snow that it's still blocking access to some mid-elevation trailheads. And in the recent heat we've had, it's melting fast.
Last week, the Seattle Times and several other state papers ran a story about how hikers face hazards from lingering snow. We posted the piece to our Facebook Page, along with our Spring Safety Tips. Yes, spring safety tips. The snowpack is so dense that it's like early May out there, but with July temperatures.
The hazards are many. They're there every spring, but the hikers aren't, at least not in great numbers. But with July and summer temps upon us, people want to get out and explore. This year, they're finding downed trees, snow obscuring trails, slippery snowfields to cross, and very, very swollen rivers and creeks. Some streams are running so high that they cannot be crossed safely, and hikers need to be ready to turn around and call it a day if they encounter such conditions. Streamflows can increase as the day heats up, too.
Yesterday's incident near Leavenworth also reminds us that cell phone service is spotty in the mountains, and that it can take several hours for Search and Rescue to arrive if called. You have got to be prepared to deal with an accident or injury without help for a lot longer than you think.
This is where I beat you over the head. Please, please read our safety tips, even if you are an experienced hiker. Refresh your memory. Forward them to your hiker friends. Always carry the Ten Essentials. Brush up on your wilderness first aid skills.
Be over-prepared this year. Hike extra smart this year.