To the Adventurous Spirits
The mountains cannot be tamed. Every snowboarder and every skier knows this. It’s that wildness that harbors their allure. It’s why we find freedom in them—because we unbridle our own hearts when we enter them. When we explore their unbound terrain, we follow our curiosities in search of what the mountains can teach us—about life, about ourselves… about humanity. In this legion, we are adventurous spirits. And the credo is clear: Grand is the risk, grand is the reward. That is the reality field upon which we play.
But the risk is always there. And today, Sunday, the mountains roared. Two avalanches in the Cascades, one at Alpental and one at Stevens Pass about an hour apart, claimed four lives. The folks lost were: Stevens Pass Director of Marketing Chris Rudolph, Freeskiing World Tour head judge Jim Jack and skier John Brenan at Stevens Pass. At Alpental, the avy claimed a snowboarder, Karl, from Seattle, who was with our crew for the early part of the day. They were all pillars of the snow-riding community in some way. They were family members to us; extraordinary humans; movers, shakers and players of this mountain culture scene, this rugged lifestyle.
Shock silenced the community today. Then, the voices erupted with pain, memories and love.
Life is fragile and the mountains are brutal. We seek humility out there—it’s part of the formula that carries us into the backcountry—but sometimes it comes thundering down upon even the most cautious seekers. The one at Stevens Pass took the skiers down more that 2,000 vertical feet in the sidecountry Tunnel Creek area. All were backcountry experts with rescue gear and avy knowledge. The Alpental accident was caused by a small fracture that sloughed Karl, an expert snowboarder, over the edge of ice cliffs and down more than 500 feet in some of the gnarliest terrain in the Alpental sidecountry zone. The avalanche danger was “considerable” today due to the recent storm that dropped more than 2 feet in the last 48 hours. The snow was light and dry on top of loose layers and ice from the fluctuating temps.
Our thoughts and respect are with the families and the Northwest snow community right now.
And, always, they are turned toward the mountains that command this beautiful and dangerous adventure.