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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Outdoor death toll mounts: More hikers killed in region’s high country

Hikers near Aasgard Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness; Dragontail Peak in background. (Rich Landers)
Hikers near Aasgard Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness; Dragontail Peak in background. (Rich Landers)

HIKING -- The Inland Northwest has logged the fourth death this season of a hiker/climber who died after slipping on snow slopes

On Monday, a hiker on a steep snow field on Glacier National Park's Grinnell Glacier Trail slipped and slid downhill 50-100 feet. Initial reports from park officials indicate he suffered head injuries and died.

The hiker has been identified as Nicholas Ryan, 30, from Omaha, Nebraska.   

The death is the latest in a troubling series of fatalities. Some of them seem to have a link to the late-lingering snowpack that's left more snow to negotiate in the high country and a longer period of high, swift and cold water in the rivers below.

A 55-year-old Lake Stevens man died Saturday when he fell from a ridge in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness west of Leavenworth.  It's the second death in the Alpine Lakes this season.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office says Thomas Vietti was traversing a ridge on the west side of a lake lake below Big Jim Mountain. He apparently lost his footing as he was maneuvering around a large rock.

On July 3, a 21-year-old woman lost control while glissading on a snow slope and fell to her death in an icy crevasse in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. That's two similar type fatal accidents in one month in one Washington wilderness.  In addition, a woman climbing Mount Baker slid and fell to her death July 2.

In 34 years of covering the Inland Northwest outdoors beat, the spring-summer of 2011 stands out as one of the most deadly periods for the region's outdoors enthusiasts.

A climber slid to her death this month died this month on Mount Baker.

As today's front page S-R story pointed out, around two dozen drownings have been reported, including at least six -- from the Wenatchee to the Blackfoot, Lochsa, Salmon and Owyhee -- involving rafters in full whitewater gear and PFDs. 

One accident that wasn't specifically mentioned in that story involved a 14 year old girl who drown May 25 after the canoe she was paddling with her brother capsized in the cold, swift spring waters of the Kettle River. Stevens County Sheriff's officers said her brother, who survived, was wearing a life jacket.  She was not.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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