Girdwood Skier Survives Washington Avalanche

A Girdwood Skier survived an avalanche on Sunday that killed three other skiers in Washington. Elyse Saugstad was swept nearly 2000 feet down a steep slope in the backcountry near Stevens Pass. The four were among three groups of skiers — about a dozen people in all — making their way through a foot and a half of fresh snow when the avalanche hit.

It has been reported that the avalanche danger was listed as “high” when they were skiing but in an interview with NBC’s Today show this morning, Saugstad says that wasn’t true when they left in the morning.

Saugstad credits an air bag inflating device with saving her life. The skiers were all well equipped with rescue gear.  They rushed to dig out the victims and preformed CPR on the men, but weren’t able to revive them. Saugstad grew up skiing at Alyeska and racing on the Alyeska Ski Team. She says she intends to keep skiing despite the tragedy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie