Woman dies, man still missing after Cascade avalanches

SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. - Snowshoer Mitch Hungate, 61, an experienced outdoorsman from Kent, remains missing in the aftermath of one of two avalanches that struck at about the same time Saturday near Snoqualmie Pass.

A woman died in the aftermath of the other avalanche Saturday.

Treacherous conditions and poor weather prevented search and rescue teams from searching for Hungate on Sunday. The search for Hungate was called off just before dark Saturday due to poor visibility and the increasingly hazardous weather conditions.

Hungate, a married stepfather with a dental practice in Renton, was hiking with two other men on Granite Mountain, near milepost 47 on Interstate 90.

"They started out, everything's fine, they're in a gully-type area - when they're hit by the avalanche," Katie Larson of the King County Sheriff's Office said.

The avalanche struck shortly after 12:30 p.m. Saturday and carried all three men about 1,200 feet down the slope at speeds of more than 50 mph, according to a GPS device one of them was carrying.

Two of the men in the party sustained injuries and Hungate,a triathlete who worked out several hours a day, disappeared. A search was launched, but no sign of the him could be found.

A woman rescued after being struck by a different avalanche Saturday, died later, medical personnel confirmed. She was reported missing after an avalanche barreled down Red Mountain a few miles from Interstate 90's milepost 52 in the vicinity of the Alpental Ski Area, striking a group of 13 people who were snowshoeing in the area.

The woman, who was following along with her dog behind the main group of snowshoers, initially could not be found after the avalanche. The others searched and found her about 45 minutes later and dug her out of about five feet of snow.

When found, the woman was not moving and was somewhat conscious, said Sgt. Katie Larson of the King County Sheriff's Office.

A search-and-rescue team hiked in and reached the group about two hours later. The victim was loaded on a sled and rescuers hiked her out through blizzard-like conditions, Larson said.

After reaching the search-and-rescue command post, medical personnel confirmed that the woman had died. Her name, age and hometown were not immediately available.

Her dog survived the avalanche.

The avalanches came down the mountains as heavy snow fell in the Cascade Mountains from a weather system moving in from the Gulf of Alaska.