Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2000-04-30
Submitted By: Garth Ferber, NW WX and Avalanche Center
Place: Mt Baker
State: WA
Country: USA
Summary: 1 hungry pooch

30 April 2000, Mt Baker, 0 fatalities, Washington, USA, activity=other?,

1 hungry pooch

This remarkable report was given to us by Jimmy Breitenstein of Glacier,

WA, and Amy Howat of the Mt Baker Ski Area.

On Sunday 30 April 2000, Jimmy Breitenstein was telemark skiing near the

Mt Baker Ski Area. The weather at the time was increasing clouds and

warming. This generally followed 2-3 days of moderate to heavy snowfall

and strong winds at lowering snow levels.

Jimmy had his dog Sketch with him, and another dog, Champ, owned by his

friend Gillian Sizemore. Jimmy and the dogs are very familiar with the

area. Jimmy was descending and traversing to his left around a cliff

band on the northwest side of Knoll One, at approximately 4500 feet,

with Champ out of view to his right, when he heard Champ yelp as an

avalanche flowed over the cliff band. The avalanche was a point release

of damp, heavy wet snow, which ran for about 120 yards to a flat run-out

zone. Jimmy searched for about 2 hours and was unable to find the dog.

Jimmy, Gillian, and others returned the next day to the flat run-out

zone to continue the search, but did not venture onto the slope, due to

concerns about continued unstable snow, and were again unable to find

the dog. There was about 2-3 feet of snow debris in the run-out zone,

and it appeared that Champ might have been carried into a cavity or moat

below the cliff where she would have been buried or trapped by snow.

On Thursday 18 May, 18 days later, ski area employees were working with

a film crew in the ski area parking lot near the site of the incident.

One of the employees recognized an emaciated Champ at the edge of the

lot. One of the film crew said he thought he had seen the dog the day

before. Champ was taken to a veterinarian, where it was noted that her

nails were mostly worn away, apparently due to digging in snow, but she

had not suffered frostbite, and she had lost about 15 of her original 65


Champ, a female German Shepherd, is now known as "The Champ".

Prepared by Garth Ferber

Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center