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Date: 2005-01-16
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Lake Steven Area
State: ID
Country: USA
Fatalities: 2
Summary: 2 snowboarders caught, buried, and killed

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Bend snowboarder, friend die in Idaho avalanche

Was son of Bend doctor; third Gonzaga student survives, goes for help

By Barney Lerten

Bend.com

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 10:36 AM

Reference Code: AR-20593

January 17 - A 22-year-old Gonzaga University graduate student from Bend was one of two snowboarders whose bodies were found and being recovered Monday from an avalanche-covered hill in the Lake Steven area of northern Idaho, Shoshone County sheriff?s officers said.

Pete Tripp of Bend and Brian Brett of Bellingham, Wash., who turned 24 Friday, were two of three snowboarders who were caught in an avalanche Sunday in an area south of Mullan known as the Lake Steven Area, accessible through the Willow Creek drainage, said Sheriff Chuck Reynalds.

The trio, including fellow Gonzaga student Sean A. Forbes, 23, had snowshoed to the top of a ridge and were snowboarding down the hill when the avalanche occurred, Reynalds said. Forbes survived, walking out to the bottom and going to a home in the area after trying to find his missing companions.

Members of the sheriff?s office, Shoshone County Search and Rescue, Forest Service law enforcement and residents of the area ?risked their lives? by entering the high-risk area to search for the missing men, both of whom were wearing emergency-locator beacons, Reynalds said in a news release.

The searchers found the two men?s bodies around 3 a.m. Monday, and both were pronounced dead at the scene, officers said. Due to ?treacherous conditions and the possibilities of more avalanches,? the search party left the area after finding the men and returned after daylight to remove the bodies from the scene.

?What we thought was a safe slope, lower down turned out not to be,? Forbes said in an interview broadcast Monday evening on KTVZ. ?And a slab broke loose that was pretty wide and took both Brian and Pete. And I made it out and was able to reach a phone at the bottom and contact the sheriff's department.?

A staff member at the Bend Memorial Clinic confirmed that Tripp was the son of gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Tripp, who had moved to Bend and joined the clinic about three years ago.

Fellow ex-Bend resident (and skier) Kyle Teater, a fellow 2004 graduate of the Spokane, Wash., university, mourned his friend?s death in a posting on Bend.com.

?Pete was an amazing kid and a friend to everyone,? Teater wrote. ?He touched the life of each and every person he met. I?ll never meet another person as introspective, thoughtful and imaginative as he.?

?Having been on a few ski trips with Pete,?

I don?t think there?s any other way he would have rather left this Earth. He was doing what he loves most.

Kyle Teater

Classmate of Bend snowboarder killed in Idaho avalanche

he added, ?I don?t think there?s any other way he would have rather left this Earth. He was doing what he loves most.?

Teater, who now works for Boeing in Seattle, said that Tripp, a Eugene native, ?loved Bend. He went there all the time to ski. He was ecstatic his parents moved there.? Tripp was a graduate student of philosophy and graduated last year, magna cum laude, with a double major in chemistry and philosophy, Teater said.

?Pete probably had more friends than anybody in the world,? the classmate and fellow ski coach added. ?He had one of those personalities, everybody he talks to became an instant friend.?

Meanwhile, in Utah?s Wasatch Mountains, recovery teams returned Monday to search the snow and debris from a powerful avalanche near Park City, after trained dogs helped recover the body of one of five skiers feared buried. Seven people have been killed in Utah avalanches this year, the most in more than a half-century of record-keeping.

Before the latest snowslides, a dozen people had been killed in avalanches around the West, according to statistics compiled at www.avalanche.org.

Some basic facts about avalanches, from a Utaho Forest Service Website:

? Noise does NOT trigger avalanches. Although the idea is a convenient plot device in movies, it?s just a myth that just won?t go away.

? In 90 percent of all avalanche accidents, the victim or someone in the victim?s party triggers the slide. Avalanches are the only natural hazard commonly triggered by the victim.

? Dry slab avalanches account for almost all avalanche accidents. A dry slab avalanche is a cohesive plate of dry snow that fractures as a unit, and then breaks apart as it slides - like a pane of glass sliding off an inclined table.

? A typical dry snow avalanche travels around 60-80 mph. An avalanche reaches these speeds within five seconds after it fractures.

? Avalanches do not strike without warning. They happen in particular places due to specific combinations of snow and weather conditions. There are almost always obvious signs that these conditions exist.