Avalanches strand numerous hikers in King County

SNOQUALMIE PASS -- Search and rescue crews rushed to multiple scenes off Snoqualmie Pass where avalanches buried a number of hikers Saturday afternoon.

The two avalanches were on Granite Mountain and another near Alpental.

Chris Sohn was part of a team of 12 slammed by one avalanche. He says he had little warning about the rush of snow heading towards him.

“Someone calling snow fall down,” Sohn said. “And then as soon as you hear it, I sloped down like 10 or 15 feet.

Another woman hiking by herself was rescued. She was suffering from hypothermia and deputies say her rescue was a long and tedious process to avoid other avalanches.

Deputy Eric Gagnon said, “Everybody’s on snow shoes. As you can see the weather conditions are poor at best. The avalanche danger is high to extreme.”

Just three miles away, at Granite Mountain, crews searched the scene of another avalanche where a group of three very experienced hikers were buried.

Sergeant Kathleen Larson said, “According to one of the climbers, I mean it came on them with almost no warning whatsoever. He said he was carried about a 1,000 feet.”

The avalanche was 30 feet wide and traveling over 50 miles an hour. Two hikers received minor injuries but the third hiker, a 60 year old man, went missing. About 50 search and rescue crew members began the task of finding the missing man.

“It’s pretty dicey right now,” Segeant Larson said.  “Right now, not only are we battling the weather conditions but obviously we want to get up there and back before it gets dark.”

Crews say hiking in conditions like these is risky.

Segeant Larson said, “Once you get into spring, and you have that warm weather and then you have a cold dump, with snow coming down. That’s when you get those real dangerous conditions up here.”