Truckee man dies in Washington avalanche
April 19, 2006
A Truckee man died Tuesday morning after getting caught in an avalanche while skiing west of Mt. Baker ski area in northern Washington, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
Tobias Lee, 25, was skiing a chute outside of the ski resort on Mount Herman between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. with his brother and a friend when a full cornice of snow broke loose at the top of the chute, said Deputy Mark Jilk.
The slide carried Lee over two rock faces and through some trees, approximately 1,000 feet down the shoot. When the brother and friend skied down to Lee, they found him to be unresponsive and tried to perform CPR, Jilk said.
Search and rescue volunteers could not reach Lee on foot because of the high avalanche risk, Jilk said.
“His family hired a private helicopter company to come pick (Lee) up,” Jilk said. “His brother helped with the removal of the body.”
Lee’s brother, Elijah Lee, 32, and friend Tom Walgren, 38, both from the Glacier, Wash., area, were not injured in the slide.
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A recent snowstorm that brought 30-plus inches of snow to the area, coupled with recent warm temperatures, made for high avalanche danger on Tuesday, Jilk said.
The area Lee was skiing takes two hours by foot to access and is “popular enough that people have named the chutes up there,” Jilk said. “The whole area is pretty steep.”
The area had seen three ski-related deaths so far this winter, but none were from avalanches, he said.
Lee competed in the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood earlier this month. He won big mountain skiing’s coveted Sickbird Award as the skier that excited the crowd the most.