Thursday, June 13, 2024

Colchuck Peak Avalanche update

Posted

Sheriff Mike Morrison reported Monday, May 29, the body of Jeannie Lee, a 60-year-old climber from Bayside, New York was recovered from the base of Colchuck Peak. Lee was killed in an avalanche on Sunday, February 19, along with two other climbers; see original release below.

A Chelan County Mountain Rescue volunteer was in the area on a personal trip when he located Lee’s body. Snow has melted significantly with the warm weather recently. He hiked to the top of Colchuck Glacier where he made a call to RiverCom dispatch.

Chelan County Sheriff’s Office was notified and deployed the CCSO helicopter. Two additional Chelan County Mountain Rescue volunteers were transported to the scene to assist with the recovery. Lee’s body was transported to the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery at approximately 4:30 p.m. and turned over to the Chelan County Coroner’s Office. The rescuers did not locate the additional missing climber, Yun Park of Palisades Park, New Jersey. Conditions still are not safe to conduct a thorough search of the area.

Background: Sheriff Mike Morrison reported on February 20, that deputies were contacted at the CCSO Leavenworth substation about an avalanche that occurred near Colchuck Lake the previous day. The reporting party, a 53-year-old Maryland man reported the group he was with had attempted to climb Colchuck Peak on Sunday February 19. There were six climbers in that group and the reporting party had stayed at their base camp that day.

The lead climber triggered an avalanche while attempting to climb the Northeast Couloir of Colchuck Peak. Four of the climbers were swept down the couloir approximately 500 feet. Three of the climbers died as a result of trauma sustained in the fall. They were a 60-year-old female from New York, a 66-year-old male from New Jersey, and a 53-year-old male from Connecticut. The fourth climber, a 56-year-old male form New York, sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was able to hike back to base camp with the remaining two. They were a 50-year-old male from New York and a 36-year-old male from New Jersey. When they arrived at camp, they sent the reporting party for help.

When Deputies took the report, An SAR coordinator started gathering resources. A total of 22 rescuers responded to the trailhead to assist with this effort. They were from Chelan County Mountain Rescue, Chelan County Volunteer Search and Rescue and ORV unit, Seattle Mountain Rescue, Tacoma Mountain Rescue, and Yakima Mountain Rescue. A group of four from Chelan County Mountain Rescue responded to the lake driven part of the way by the CCVSAR ORV unit. They reached the base camp at approximately 1:30 p.m. They were able to determine avalanche conditions were too hazardous to continue to the deceased climbers. They escorted the surviving climbers back to the trailhead. Rescuers were not sent back into the scene that day due to hazardous conditions. CCSO continues to work with Northwest Avalanche Center to assist in a recover plan. Colchuck Peak sits at the south end of Colchuck Lake approximately 8 miles south of Leavenworth.

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