Search and Rescue (SAR) crews were called to Snow Lake at Snoqualmie Pass, Thursday afternoon, December 15, 2016 when a backcountry skier was injured after hitting a tree.
King County SAR Volunteer Public Information Officer Alan LaBissoniere said the 21-year old man was skiing with friends around 2PM when he clipped a tree, fell and injured his hip.
About 25 SAR volunteers responded to Snow Lake and skied about 2 miles to the man’s location near the ridge above Snow Lake. Bissoniere said the area, at about 4,5000 in elevation, has roughly a 6-8 foot snow base. Temperatures were around 17 degrees during the mission.
According to Seattle Mountain Rescue, their volunteers, along with Ski Patrol Rescue Team and King County Explorer Search and Rescue members, arrived on scene around 5PM and after “packaging the patient, teams did a mix of technical lowers, tobogganing, and carrying to get the subject back to the parking lot.” Crews had the man back to the trailhead parking lot around 9PM.
LaBissoniere said he left the scene around 9PM to respond to a second call for help near Snoqualmie Pass. His Regional Special Vehicles Unit SAR team was needed to help a motorist whose vehicle became stuck on Tinkham Road and was unprepared for the conditions.
LaBissoniere offered some important words of advice for anyone heading toward the mountain passes this winter:
“We want people to enjoy the outdoors, but please go prepared. Don’t go alone, pack your 10 essentials, and tell someone where you’re going and time you will be back. Have a plan in place if you don’t show up. If you’re going into avalanche area, know the conditions and have the proper training with an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel if something happens.”
The King County Search and Rescue Association consists of about 10 units. The KCSO is responsible for search and rescue activities in unincorporated areas of the county, as well as contract cities under the mandates of RCW38.52. Each year, volunteer groups along with Sheriff’s Office SAR personnel, respond to numerous incidents involving lost or injured hikers, skiers hunters and children. SAR volunteers also assist in times of natural disasters like flooding, wind storms and earthquakes.