Officials suspended the search for a 24-year-old man from the Seattle area who apparently fell into a waterfall hole Sunday in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.
Update on 6/10: Qi He’s family said in a statement that he is a “bright, ambitious and adventurous” man whose disappearance was distressing to family and friends. They asked that anyone with news to contact the family at 615-260-0304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
He’s aunt, Chaohui Li, said He was an excellent student who had recently completed a graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania. “He liked climbing. He went a lot of places,” Li said. “His mom told him lots of times to be very safe, but he liked the challenge.”
Li said family members would be coming to Washington once they receive visas.
“I hope we can do something to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future,” she said.
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Original post: The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday called off the search for a 24-year-old man who went missing Sunday in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area after apparently falling into a hole carved into snow by a waterfall.
The missing hiker was identified Wednesday as a 24-year-old Chinese citizen named Qi He, according to a news release from Jason Mathews, the county’s undersheriff. He was a student and intern in the Seattle area.
The 24-year-old was glissading, or using an ice ax to control his slide, down Aasgard Pass, a steep route from Colchuck Lake to The Enchantments, a popular alpine hiking and backpacking area.
The man apparently lost control of his slide about halfway down the pass and went over the edge of a rock outcropping.
“A witness said he was out of control and the ice ax was dangling behind him as he slid off the hill,” said Rich Magnussen, who coordinates emergency rescues for the sheriff’s office.
In early-season conditions, a stream of snowmelt undercuts ice and snow on the steep slope. The man plunged over the edge and into the waterfall hole and could not be seen by members of his group.
The waterfall hole was on the southwest side of the pass. In summer conditions, hikers usually follow a loose route up the northeast side of the pass, where waterfalls, snow and ice are less likely to persist.
Mathews said the search “has been canceled for now with the intention of resuming a recovery effort in the near future. It’s all going to be based on weather conditions and the snowpack level receding.”
Mathews said rescuers called off the search Monday afternoon because of safety concerns over fast-moving water inside the waterfall hole.
“They entered about 40 feet into the actual hole, which is covered by several feet of ice and snow,” he said. “It was too dangerous to continue in.”
Magnussen said rescuers were concerned that snow might collapse on them.
They did not see any sign of the man, who had been missing since Sunday.
Although members of his group did not know his full name, Mathews said sheriff’s deputies were able to identify him through his employer, and were trying to reach his family.
Mathews said a recovery attempt would likely be attempted in the next few weeks as snow melts.
Correction: Chelan County Undersheriff Jason Mathews’ name was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this article.