Avalanche at Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington state kills 1 skier, 5 others rescued
Skier killed on Crystal Mountain identified as Robert Weisel, 66
An avalanche at a Washington state ski resort killed a 66-year-old man and trapped five others over the weekend after the group entered a closed part of the resort while backcountry skiing.
The avalanche was reported about 10:50 a.m. Saturday in the Silver Basin area of Crystal Mountain, located about 85 miles southeast of Seattle, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said. The accident occurred within the bounds of the Crystal Mountain Resort.
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The Pierce County medical examiner on Monday identified the man who died as 66-year-old Robert Weisel, of Issaquah, Washington. Weisel died of multiple blunt force injuries, according to the medical examiner.
Authorities said the five other skiers in Weisel’s group rescued themselves with the help of two witnesses who saw the avalanche sweep over them. Weisel wasn’t breathing when he was pulled out from the snow and died despite CPR efforts by another skier.
All six skiers were experienced backcountry skiers and were wearing avalanche beacons, according to officials. However, a warning had been issued against skiing in the area, which was just inside the boundaries of Crystal Mountain Resort.
The resort said in a statement on Saturday that the Silver Basin area had not yet opened for the season, and was "uncontrolled and not mitigated for avalanche hazard."
Frank DeBerry, the resort's president and CEO, said all six men held the ski resort’s uphill travel passes, which means they were registered with ski patrol, participated in an orientation on how and where to access backcountry skiing through the resort’s property and were required to check snow conditions prior to their excursion.
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The private ski resort determines the conditions, but there is nothing that stops skiers from going there because the property abuts public lands in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
"Skiers can travel at will wherever they want in the national forest. They had gone out into the forest but ended up back in bounds (of the resort) where this slide occurred," DeBerry said.
Crystal Mountain is the largest ski resort in Washington state, encompassing 2,600 acres.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.