Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: Garth Ferber, NW WX and Avalanche Center
Place: Mt Baker
Summary: 1 hungry pooch
30 April 2000, Mt Baker, 0 fatalities, Washington, USA, activity=other?,
1 hungry pooch
This remarkable report was given to us by Jimmy Breitenstein of Glacier,
WA, and Amy Howat of the Mt Baker Ski Area.
On Sunday 30 April 2000, Jimmy Breitenstein was telemark skiing near the
Mt Baker Ski Area. The weather at the time was increasing clouds and
warming. This generally followed 2-3 days of moderate to heavy snowfall
and strong winds at lowering snow levels.
Jimmy had his dog Sketch with him, and another dog, Champ, owned by his
friend Gillian Sizemore. Jimmy and the dogs are very familiar with the
area. Jimmy was descending and traversing to his left around a cliff
band on the northwest side of Knoll One, at approximately 4500 feet,
with Champ out of view to his right, when he heard Champ yelp as an
avalanche flowed over the cliff band. The avalanche was a point release
of damp, heavy wet snow, which ran for about 120 yards to a flat run-out
zone. Jimmy searched for about 2 hours and was unable to find the dog.
Jimmy, Gillian, and others returned the next day to the flat run-out
zone to continue the search, but did not venture onto the slope, due to
concerns about continued unstable snow, and were again unable to find
the dog. There was about 2-3 feet of snow debris in the run-out zone,
and it appeared that Champ might have been carried into a cavity or moat
below the cliff where she would have been buried or trapped by snow.
On Thursday 18 May, 18 days later, ski area employees were working with
a film crew in the ski area parking lot near the site of the incident.
One of the employees recognized an emaciated Champ at the edge of the
lot. One of the film crew said he thought he had seen the dog the day
before. Champ was taken to a veterinarian, where it was noted that her
nails were mostly worn away, apparently due to digging in snow, but she
had not suffered frostbite, and she had lost about 15 of her original 65
Champ, a female German Shepherd, is now known as "The Champ".
Prepared by Garth Ferber
Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center