Leavenworth, Washington – Three climbers died in an avalanche after a lead climber accidentally triggered it while trying to reach the summit of the 8,705-foot mountain over the weekend.
The incident occurred Sunday as a group of six climbers — all from the East Coast — attempted to summit Kolchak Peak, which is located at the southern end of Kolchak Lake, about 8 miles south of Leavenworth, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest.
“A lead climber triggered an avalanche while attempting to ascend the northeast couloir of Kolchak Peak,” Chelan County Sheriff’s officials said after the tragedy.
Four climbers were swept down the mountain about 500 feet in the avalanche, killing three of them. A fourth climber, a 56-year-old New York man, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was able to return to base camp with two survivors, a 50-year-old New York man and a 36-year-old man. -year-old man from New Jersey.
When they finally arrived at camp, they sent the seventh member who hadn’t ventured climbing during the day — a 53-year-old man from Maryland — to go get help.
The three climbers who died as a result of injuries sustained in the fall are Jinny Lee, 60, of New York, Yoon Park, 66, of New Jersey, and Song Cho, 54, of Connecticut. the authorities confirmed. They were part of a climbing group.
“On February 20, 2023, Sheriff Mike Morrison advised that deputies were contacted at the Leavenworth CCSO Substation regarding an avalanche that had occurred near Kolchak Lake the previous day,” the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement after the avalanche. “A total of 22 rescuers responded to the trail to assist with this effort. They were from Chelan County Mounty Rescue, Chelan County Volunteer Search and Rescue and ORV unit, Seattle Mountain Rescue, Tacoma Mountain Rescue and Yakima Mountain Rescue.”
When officials reached base camp at approximately 1:30 p.m. Monday, they decided the avalanche conditions made it too dangerous to continue their mission to recover the three dead climbers and decided to return with the surviving climbers. before the start of the track, the authorities said.
As of Thursday morning, rescuers were still unable to return to the scene due to continued hazardous conditions, and officials with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office say they are continuing to work with the Northwest Avalanche Center to help develop a recovery plan. of three climbers.
A total of nine people have died this winter in avalanches across the United States, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center — four in Colorado in three separate cases, one in Montana, one in Nevada and now three in Washington after the event.
Last winter, 17 avalanche deaths were reported in the United States, with no single incident killing more than two people, making it the highest number of avalanche deaths since the Feb. 6 avalanche at Wilson Glade in Mill Creek Canyon, State Utah, took the lives of four people. 2021, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
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