Girl Dies in Avalanche at Lake 22
The Seattle P.I. reports that yesterday a 13-year-old girl from Mukilteo died in an avalanche on the Lake 22 Trail off the Mountain Loop Highway. A group of young people and one adult had been hiking the trail when the avalanche hit. Two other children were trapped in the avalanche but were freed from the snow.
After this event and another avalanche this past week that killed two snomobilers at Church Mountain near Mount Baker, this is shaping up to be one of the deadliest avalanche seasons ever in our state. As the P.I. article points out, we're just two weeks into winter.
I will say this upfront: many of the deaths this year have come from making bad choices. Don't let your your name be added to that list.
Before you head out to hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski please read WTA's page on snow safety. Probably the most important point to remember is to call or visit the local ranger station where you're planning to go to find out if the trail or route you want to take is prone to avalanche. I also can't emphasize this enough: many trails that are easy day hikes in summer are deadly in winter: Snow Lake, Granite Mountain, Mount Dickerman, and Lake 22 are all examples of trails that just shouldn't be hiked in winter. Period.
You should check also check weather forecasts and recent reports from the Northwest Avalanche Center...but please remember that these are general forecasts: avalanche risk varies from location to location. Some trails may be risk-free all year, while other always pose avalanche risk in even the most ideal winter conditions. Again, talk to rangers. You'll find a list here. Do your research and know which trails pose a high risk.
Let's be safe out there.