Avalanche (Photo MGI via Shutterstock)
(Photo/MGI via Shutterstock)

Skiers in WA Trigger Deadly Avalanche, Ultrarunner Breaks 24-Hour Record, and More Can’t-Miss Stories This Week

A weekly wrap-up of adventure news. From the inspiring to the tragic, here’s some of what you missed and a few things to look forward to.

An avalanche killed one skier, a male aged 60, and prompted the rescue of five others Saturday morning. The incident occurred in the Silver Basin backcountry of Crystal Mountain Ski Resort near Seattle. The area had experienced 12 inches of snowfall and summit winds up to 100 mph since Friday.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the snowslide was triggered when the group of six attempted to advance uphill. Two witnesses skiing nearby reported the event to Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol. All six skiers were wearing avalanche beacons, which allowed for their expedient rescue by avi first responders.

An official statement issued by Crystal Mountain Ski Resort states that the Silver Basin area was not open for the season and had yet to undergo routine avalanche mitigation. “Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol reminds backcountry skiers to research uphill travel policies and check the avalanche forecasts before heading into the backcountry,” resort officials stated.

telluride avalanche
Avalanches: Basic Safety Tips for Beginners
Avalanches reputedly kill more people on national forest land than any other hazard. These pointers will help you stay safe this winter and avoid avalanches. Read more…

Nick Coury set a new 24-hour record for American men at the Desert Solstice Track Invitational on Sunday. The ultrarunner and Phoenix local put down 173.01 miles in the time. “He ran nearly every single lap under 2 minutes and 10 seconds,” reported iRunFar. Marisa Lizak took first in the women’s 24-hour division.

The Desert Solstice has a unique format in that runners compete in the 24-hour race or 100-miler. This year’s invite-only ultramarathon hosted 25 road and trail specialists.

As for the 100-mile race, David Laney took a fast first with 12:34:59 on the clock, and Camille Herron reset her standing American women’s record for the distance, running it in 13:21:51.

A father and son suspected of starting the Caldor Fire were charged by El Dorado County authorities on Friday. According to the official complaint filed Thursday by the El Dorado County DA’s office, David Scott Smith (66) and Travis Shane Smith (32) face charges of reckless arson and illegal possession of a firearm silencer. Smith faces an additional charge for illegal conversion or manufacture of a machine gun. Both have entered not guilty pleas.

The Caldor Fire, which burned from August through October, destroyed 221,835 acres, over 1,000 structures, and forced the evacuation of some 50,000 residents from around Lake Tahoe according to NPR. It stands as the 15th-largest fire in state history.

Olympian and Team USA track cyclist Christina Birch will become the first pro-cyclist-turned-astronaut. NASA announced its 2021 class on Dec. 6, which comprised 10 out of the program’s 12,000-plus candidates.

Birch, an 11-time national track cycling champion, two-time Pan Am titlist, and member of the Olympic long team, earned her Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT while also competing. She’s just 35 years old.

11-time national track champion Christina Birch joins NASA's 2021 class; (photos/NASA and Wikipedia commons)
11-time national track champion Christina Birch joins NASA’s 2021 class; (photos/NASA and Wikipedia commons)

Heads up, astro-nerds and night owls: the strongest meteor shower of the year will reach peak visibility this week. According to Peter Brown, an astronomy professor at Western University in London, Ontario, this year’s Geminids meteor shower will be brightest around 3 a.m. ET Tuesday, Dec. 14. While dark skies are always best for viewing astronomical events, Brown noted that all you’ll need to view this array of Geminids are an unobstructed view and clear skies.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Andreas Jones (@photodiction)

Hooked on a new outdoor sport but in need of a mentor? REI and TINCUP Mountain Whiskey just opened up applications for the “Give It a Shot” program. TINCUP will select more than 100 “aspiring outdoorspeople” from around the U.S. to attend a group expedition where they will learn skills alongside adventure experts like Emily Harrington, Adrian Ballinger, Len Necefer, and Cody Townsend.

Apply now through Jan. 10, 2022, at tincupwhiskey.com/giveitashot.

Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.