A glissading accident likely claimed the life of a 19-year old Mercer Island man Sunday afternoon, according to a press release from Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett.
Search efforts were suspended due to darkness at about 8:30 p.m., and the search was continuing as of Monday. The victim’s name was initially withheld, pending next of kin notification.
He was identified as Benjamin Gore in an updated press release posted at 6:13 p.m. Monday. Search and rescue coordinators may need to wait several weeks to make a recovery of the body.
The incident, initially reported at 5:01 p.m. June 4, occurred below the summit of Asgaard Pass between Colchuck Peak and Dragontail Mountain, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.
The initial report was that Gore was with one other subject as they were both attempting to glissade down the snow field from the summit of Asgaard Pass to the glacier area below.
“Glissading is the act of intentionally descending down a steep slope in a controlled slide on a person’s feet or buttocks. It routinely involves the use of an ice-axe or similar device to assist in controlling the slide,” according to the sheriff’s office. “Glissading is a high-risk activity due to the unforeseen dangers (such as holes or crevasses) in the snow path.”
A satellite text message had been relayed to the Washington State Department of Emergency Management’s duty officer stating there had been an accident in which a male subject had fallen into a hole and disappeared under the snowpack. GPS coordinates were included in the message, but no other information was available.
Chelan County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue coordinators began notifying mountain rescue members to respond. A Lifeflight medical helicopter was available to assist with an initial check of the coordinates in the area, and a hoist-equipped helicopter was requested from the state. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office “SnoHawk-10” helicopter also assisted with the search and rescue effort.
Attempts to locate the subject in the hole, which runs well below the deep snowpack, were unsuccessful.
A team of five from Chelan County Mountain Rescue and one deputy were flown to the top of Aasgard Pass, then descended on foot to the hole in the snow where Gore disappeared.
There was no sign of Gore, and the view was obstructed by the high flow of water under the snow, according to the sheriff’s office. The hard snow pack is an estimated 25 to 30 feet deep.
“The family has been notified and understands the situation,” according to the updated press release.