A 19-year-old man is feared dead after a glissading accident on Aasgard Pass, a route into The Enchantments, a popular hiking, backpacking and climbing destination.
A 19-year-old Mercer Island man is missing after glissading into a hole in the snowpack Sunday on Aasgard Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, according to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.
Monday night, the office identified the man as Benjamin Gore. The news release said he likely died from the fall. It also said a sheriff’s deputy was belayed into the hole but could find no sign of the young man. The view was obstructed by the high flow of water under the snow, which was estimated to be about 25 to 30 feet deep.
The release said Gore’s family had been notified.
A hole that formed in the same location of the snowpack last year killed a 24-year-old man.
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Glissading involves sliding down a steep, snowy slope, usually while seated, and controlling the speed of the slide with the spike of an ice ax.
The man was traveling with two friends, a 31-year-old man on foot and a 42-year-old man on skis, said Sgt. Kent Sisson, who coordinates search and rescue for Chelan County.
The 31-year-old told the Sheriff’s Office he had also been glissading but was able to stop himself before reaching the hole by self-arresting, or turning over and digging the pick of his ice ax into the snow.
“He realized there was a hazard below. He was able to self-arrest above the hazard,” Sisson said. “The 19-year-old was not able to self-arrest.”
The 31-year-old man signaled for help, yelled for his friend and peered into the hole, but could find no trace of him. The skier had taken a different route to the bottom.
Rescue helicopters brought searchers near the location where Gore disappeared Sunday evening.
Search and rescue hiked up the pass Monday morning to determine if it was safe to enter the hole wearing drysuits.
“It’s a significant amount of snow … they’re going to look at potentially digging into the side of the snowpack and dig an entry point,” Sisson said, though he was not sure conditions would be safe enough for that approach. “That’s going to take an extensive amount of digging, and you could create your own hazards.”
Aasgard Pass is a popular route from Colchuck Lake into The Enchantments, an area popular with climbers, hikers and backpackers for its quality granite, alpine beauty and picturesque lakes.
The route up Aasgard Pass begins at about 5,600 feet elevation and gains 2,200 feet in about three-quarters of a mile.
Snow and ice typically cover large boulders and streams into early summer throughout the route. Flowing water and boulders can create voids in the snowpack, where it can be unsafe to travel. Rockfalls and avalanches are also a concern.
Later in the season, hikers usually follow a loose route up the northeast side of Aasgard Pass, where waterfalls, snow and ice are less likely to persist.
It’s the second time in as many years that someone has fallen into the same waterfall hole, which Sisson said is created by running water flowing over a boulder and back into the snowpack.
Information in this article, originally published June 5, 2017, was corrected June 6, 2017. A previous version of this story erroneously stated that a sheriff’s deputy was delayed getting into the snowpack hole.