2012 Tunnel Creek avalanche

The 2012 Tunnel Creek avalanche occurred on February 19, 2012, at about noon in the Tunnel Creek section of Stevens Pass, a mountain pass through the Cascade Mountains located at the border of King County and Chelan County in Washington, U.S.A.[1] There were three fatalities and one injured. The avalanche was characterized as a slab avalanche, or 200 feet across and 3 feet deep.[2] Three days before the avalanche occurred, a large snow storm dumped 32 inches into Stevens Pass. This resulted in the unstable snow pack that was disrupted by skiers on their excursion.


The avalanche was triggered when fifteen of the nation's top free skiers and free snowboarders were making a run together.[3] They had been gathered by Chris Rudolph, a charismatic marketing director at the attached ski resort.[2] One or more of the skiers triggered the avalanche 300 feet below the top of the mountain. Starting at an elevation of 5800 feet and a slope of 42 degrees,[4] it rushed down 2,650 vertical feet,[5] carrying away five skiers.[4] One of the skiers wedged himself between two trees and avoided being swept away as the avalanche rushed over him.[4] Another skier, Elyse Saugstad, deployed an avalanche survival airbag and suffered minor injuries, despite being trapped until her fellow skiers rescued her.[2][4] The remaining three skiers, Jim Jack, Chris Rudolph and John Brenan, were killed through a combination of blunt force trauma and asphyxia.[2][4][5][6]

Media coverage

The avalanche attracted a high level of media attention because of the experience and notoriety of all sixteen skiers and snowboarders on the trip. Participants included professional competitive skiers and members of the freeskiing media, including reporters and a photographer from Powder Magazine.[7][8] In December 2012, the New York Times published an interactive multimedia feature piece called "Snow Fall"[2][9] that was critically acclaimed,[10] including winning the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.


  1. ^ Snoqualmie Pass Quadrangle, Washington (Map) (1965 Photorevised 1987 ed.). 1 : 24,000. 7,5 Minute Series (Topographic). United States Geological Survey. 1987. ISBN 0-607-57715-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e Branch, John (20 December 2012). "Snow Fall". New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  3. ^ Morrison, Patty; Owens, Jamie; Moore, Mark (February 19, 2012). "Tunnel Creek Avalanche Incident" (PDF). Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Patty Morrison; Jamie Owens and Mark Moore (19 February 2012). "Tunnel Creek Avalanche Incident PRELIMINARY REPORT" (PDF). Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  5. ^ a b Michelson., Megan (14 November 2012). "TUNNEL VISION". Outside. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Avalanche killed experienced backcountry skiers". CNN. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  7. ^ Nolan, Hamilton (20 December 2012). "The Most Popular Avalanche in America". Gawker. Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  8. ^ Abbot, Nate (20 December 2012). "Mainstream media addresses Tunnel Creek avalanche". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  9. ^ Branch, John (21 December 2012). "Q. and A.: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek". New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  10. ^ Hecht, Anthony (21 December 2012). "The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek". The Stranger. Retrieved 24 December 2012.

Coordinates: 47°43′40″N 121°06′25″W / 47.72772°N 121.10693°W

Elyse Saugstad

Elyse Saugstad is an American professional free skier. She was the 2008 Freeride World Champion. Saugstad gained additional notoriety after surviving the 2012 Tunnel Creek avalanche. She credits her survival to her use of an avalanche airbag that she deployed when the slide started.

List of avalanches by death toll

This is an incomplete list of notable avalanches.

Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center

The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center (NWAC) is a weather forecasting center located in Seattle, Washington. Its twice daily forecasts are important for recreational and professional users of mountains and other rural areas in the Pacific Northwest.

Snow Fall

"Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek," is a New York Times multimedia feature by reporter John Branch about the 2012 Tunnel Creek avalanche, published on December 20, 2012. The article won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and a Peabody Award. Packaged together as a six-part story interwoven with interactive graphics, animated simulations and aerial video, "Snow Fall" became one of the most talked about online news articles in 2013 and garnered praise and debate over it being an example of "the future of online journalism." The article became highly influential among online journalism circles, with many other publications attempting similar multimedia features and even coined an industry term, "to snowfall."

The New York Times

The New York Times (sometimes abbreviated as the NYT and NYTimes) is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

The paper is owned by The New York Times Company, which is publicly traded and is controlled by the Sulzberger family through a dual-class share structure. It has been owned by the family since 1896; A.G. Sulzberger, the paper's publisher, and his father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the company's chairman, are the fourth and fifth generation of the family to helm the paper.Nicknamed "The Gray Lady", the Times has long been regarded within the industry as a national "newspaper of record". The paper's motto, "All the News That's Fit to Print", appears in the upper left-hand corner of the front page.

Since the mid-1970s, The New York Times has greatly expanded its layout and organization, adding special weekly sections on various topics supplementing the regular news, editorials, sports, and features. Since 2008, the Times has been organized into the following sections: News, Editorials/Opinions-Columns/Op-Ed, New York (metropolitan), Business, Sports of The Times, Arts, Science, Styles, Home, Travel, and other features. On Sunday, the Times is supplemented by the Sunday Review (formerly the Week in Review), The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine and T: The New York Times Style Magazine. The Times stayed with the broadsheet full-page set-up and an eight-column format for several years after most papers switched to six, and was one of the last newspapers to adopt color photography, especially on the front page.

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