Confirmed in a statement published yesterday by the Wallowa Avalanche Center, Kip Rand, the center's director, died Tuesday in an Oregon avalanche. Rand, who assumed the role of Wallowa Avalanche Center Director last November, was skiing Chief Joseph Mountain, west of Joseph, Ore., when the avalanche occurred.
According to The Observer, Rand, 29, was skiing with one other individual in Miner's Gulch, a large basin on Chief Joseph Mountain (9,616 ft.) in northeastern Oregon's Wallowa Mountains. The avalanche carried Rand nearly 600 feet, Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers told The Observer, and while Rand survived the slide, he later succumbed to his injuries. Rand's partner, visiting from out of town, was unharmed, and area skiers, along with Wallowa County Search and Rescue, assisted with the recovery effort.
"If it wasn't for the backcountry skiers it would be a lot harder for search and rescue to reach people in some of these higher altitude, deep snow rescues we have to do from time to time," Rogers said.
The Wallowa Avalanche Center's most recent advisory—published over the weekend by Rand—spoke of storm snow and wind slabs as the primary hazards, with a recent storm bringing rain and wet snow to northeastern Oregon. According to the Wallowa Avalanche Center statement, Rand was not working on the day of the avalanche.
"We are simply stunned with sorrow," Wallowa Avalanche Center board member Keith Stebbings said in the statement. Reflecting on Rand's short tenure with the Avalanche Center, Stebbings continued:
"He came to us with extensive avalanche training, many years of experience as a guide, avalanche educator and pro observer. Most of all, he came to us with a humble, collected and thoughtful demeanor as he spoke and shared his knowledge."
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