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1 dead and 5 rescued after an avalanche near a Seattle-area ski resort

By Kay Jones, CNN

One person died and five others were rescued after an avalanche near a Seattle-area ski resort.

A witness reported that six skiers were swept up by the avalanche in the Silver Basin area in the Crystal Mountain backcountry Saturday morning, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said.

All six were wearing avalanche beacons and were quickly located, the sheriff’s department said in an email. All were pulled from the snow, but one person was not breathing.

The man who died was in his 60s, the resort said.

The Northwest Avalanche Center will investigate, according to the resort.

The skiers, traveling uphill, triggered the snowslide in an area that wasn’t mitigated for avalanches and was not yet open for the ski season, the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort said in a release. An avalanche occurs when a layer of snow collapses and travels downhill rapidly.

The area saw heavy winds during the morning hours, and the mountain’s official Twitter page said that wind speeds had topped 100 mph at the summit of Mt. Rainier, causing them to shut down the Mt. Rainier gondola.

Worldwide, 150 people are killed on average each year in avalanches, with roughly 27 of those in the US.

Crystal Mountain had received a foot of snow over 24 hours, the resort said.

“As snow continues to fall, Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol reminds backcountry skiers to research uphill travel policies and check the avalanche forecasts before heading into the backcountry,” the resort said.

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CNN’s Jennifer Gray contributed to this report.

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