Morgan Miller, 36, an experienced ski mountaineer from Snoqualmie, was killed Tuesday in an avalanche on Red Mountain in the Snoqualmie Pass area.
A 36-year-old man killed in an avalanche near Snoqualmie Pass is being remembered as a passionate skier and eager mountain guide who considered outdoor education his “craft.”
Morgan Miller, an experienced ski mountaineer from the Snoqualmie area, was found Tuesday on Red Mountain near avalanche debris, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West. He was traveling alone.
Because he was found with boots and crampons on and skis packed, rescuers believe Miller was ascending the mountain when the avalanche struck, West said.
Miller was apparently carried down the mountain and struck trees, West said.
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A longtime backcountry skier, Miller had shared his tour plan with a friend.
“He had a plan in place. He alerted someone where he was going,” West said.
When he did not return Tuesday afternoon, the friend called police.
Rescuers located Miller’s body at about 9 p.m., said Larry Colagiovanni, a Seattle Mountain Rescue leader.
Kenny Kramer, a forecast meteorologist for the Northwest Avalanche Center, said slide danger was moderate at all elevation levels Tuesday.
Kramer said a rescuer told him that an avalanche crown was spotted several hundred feet above where Miller’s body was found, indicating that the avalanche was possibly a slab avalanche caused by wind.
Miller was a well-known guide in local skiing and rock-climbing communities and also worked as an on-snow supervisor for the Alpental ski area’s ski school.
“He was a true educator,” said Miller’s girlfriend, Brigit Anderson. “He had studied outdoor education in college … he called it his craft.”
Anderson said Miller “had a need to be in the mountains” and accepted the risks of his passion.
“His joy for being in these environments was so honest, even if we were sitting on the porch drinking coffee watching the sunrise,” she said. “These are the risks we’re willing to take. He played within his ability and was quite conservative in doing everything he did, but you can make the most conservative decision and things can still happen. … that’s just the life we live.”
Miller was an accomplished climber and enjoyed trail-running, but “skiing on snow was his true passion,” Anderson said.
She said Miller’s “pure joy was telemark skiing.” He told her his goal was to find the smoothest line possible and “telemark ski like Jerry Garcia plays a guitar — just floating down the slope.”
He took trips to the Alps, to Chile’s volcanoes and to Alaska for skiing. Miller recently completed a ski-guiding course in Idaho with the American Mountain Guides Association.
Matt Schonwald, the owner of BC Adventure Guides, said Miller had recently begun working for him as an apprentice avalanche instructor. Schonwald described Miller as a capable, eager guide who wanted to help people achieve their outdoor goals.
“He was very poetic. He’d wax lyrical about a day in the mountains — it didn’t matter what the conditions were.”
Anderson said Miller was an “old soul” who loved reading Ernest Hemingway. He also was a writer who reflected on his time outdoors.
“He’d write about the beauty of our life … days out he’d had,” she said.
Anderson said Miller had an effect on everyone he met.
“He’s someone who will linger.”
Red Mountain is a pyramid-shaped mountain that rises to nearly 5,900 feet. It is a popular route for backcountry recreationalists, in part, because of its easy access from Interstate 90.
Schonwald described it as a “straightforward, but steep objective” with terrain that requires careful evaluation.
Several people have died in avalanches on the mountain, including a backcountry skier buried in a 2011 cornice collapse and avalanche as well as a woman hiking with her dog in 2013 who was pulled from an avalanche but became hypothermic during a nine-hour rescue attempt and died.