Searchers wait to recover avalanche victim because of blizzard-like conditions

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SEATTLE (AP) — A female snowshoer died hours after being dug out of an avalanche by fellow hikers, and a man is still missing today, two days after a pair of spring avalanches struck separate groups hiking in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle, authorities in Washington state said.

Sgt. Katie Larson with the King County Sheriff’s Office said a team of rescuers worked through the night in blizzard-like conditions to carry the female snowshoer off the mountain early Sunday.

Medics confirmed she’d died when they reached the base of the mountain, Larson said. “The conditions yesterday were horrific,” Larson said Sunday. “It took 25 rescuers about five to six hours” to bring her off the mountain in a sled.

The woman, whose identity was not known, had been hiking with her dog near a dozen other people Saturday afternoon when an avalanche hit Red Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass.

She was buried in five feet of snow but was dug out with the help of snowshoers who had also been caught in the avalanche.

Members of that group told authorities it took them 45 minutes to find the woman. “They did their best to try to warm her up,” Larson said.

It was the first avalanche fatality reported in Washington this season, according to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center in Seattle. Nationwide, 16 others have died this season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Meanwhile, the search for a 60-year-old hiker swept down the mountain in an avalanche at Granite Mountain Saturday was suspended indefinitely due to the poor conditions.

The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center said avalanche danger in the area today is “considerable” above 4,000 feet.

The man, from Kent, Wash., was with two friends when they were swept more than 1,200 feet. His friends suffered non life-threatening injuries.

Snowshoer Won Shin, 56, of Mukilteo, Wash., was on Red Mountain when it hit, he said, “the only thing I thought about was just, ‘Get out of here.’ I’ve never felt anything like that.”

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