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Dick B
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PostTue Jan 10, 2023 8:33 am 
I remember a snow slide taking out a one room school at Merritt, east of Stevens Pass. I believe it was some time in the 1940s. Fortunately, the school was not in session, so was unoccupied.

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Sky Hiker
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PostTue Jan 10, 2023 10:12 am 
Wonder if it was a combination of higher snow amounts back then or logging the side of the hill. I would think with Yodelin it was trees removed for the ski slopes.

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Dick B
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PostTue Jan 10, 2023 11:58 am 
Sky. Probably a combination of both. In 1940, when I was 5, we spent a winter in a cabin on Nason Creek about halfway between Coles Corner and Lake Wenatchee. I remember a lot of snow that winter. My brother and I each got sleds for Christmas. Our sledding hill was out on the county road. Plowed, but little traffic. There was once a picture in the Wenatchee World of the snowpack on Stevens Pass. It looked like the snowbanks, after the rotaries came thru, were 20 feet high. A heavy wet snow, and all the timber on the mountain above the Great Northern tracks having been burned off by the coal fired steamers, contributed to the 1910 Wellington disaster.

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PostThu Jan 12, 2023 5:53 am 
Two of our neighbor families in North Seattle are the one's whose cabins were hit by avalanches at Yodelin. The one family's house was completely destroyed. The parents were killed upstairs, the girls survived by being protected by the bed headboard. They were buried for 24 hours until rescued. In the other cabin, the avalanche broke through the upstairs bedroom and killed a niece of that family, our next door neighbors. I don't recall the circumstances of the 4th victim, but likely in the room with the niece. I had skied just two-three days before at Alpental, where I met and skied with my Sister's eventually to be Husband. It was about 15F and the skiing was the deepest I ever encountered; actually going completely beneath the snow at times as we skied. At the time of the avalanche I was in Sun Valley with our near neighbors. I believe I skied a couple of hours that day on Dollar Mountain. The following morning, they got a phone call about the avalanche and flew home. I drove their car home but had to go through the Columbia as all passes were closed. My Dad told me it had snowed 99" in three days, then turned to rain. All of the snow was on top of an ice layer. The avalanche was not in the ski area, but on the opposite side of Highway 2 beneath steep and cliffy slopes on the SE end of Skyline Ridge. When the neighbors bought property in Yodelin maybe about 1967, they asked my Dad to also buy property there. My Dad declined because he saw potential for avalanches. Years before Ed LaChapelle had evaluated this land and concluded that much of it was too dangerous for cabins. The developer hid that information and hence was subsequently sued. https://www.co.chelan.wa.us/files/community-development/documents/Yodelin/Yodelin%20Evaluation-%20Edward%20R%20LaChapelle.pdf The youngest neighbor daughter, then 14 to 16, lived the rest of her school years with our nextdoor neighbors. Maybe somewhat surprisingly, both Sisters went on to live in Sun Valley; the oldest, who was a skilled artist, passed several years ago.

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Schroder
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PostThu Jan 12, 2023 9:11 am 
In Everett Mountain Rescue we received the call for assistance that day at Yodelin. We couldn't get our truck past Tunnel Creek because of all the avalanches over the highway.

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PostThu Jan 12, 2023 5:51 pm 
Below is an "eyewitness" account of the avalanches from my Yodelin neighbors Nancy and Paul Burton. Nancy Burton is now deceased, but Paul, who is in his nineties, still comes up regularly, although he stopped skiing a couple years ago. 1971 Avalanches at Yodelin Background Yodelin is a development in the Cascade Mountains, a mile and a half east of Stevens Pass. It was established in 1969 to provide a ski area and sites for mountain cabins. In 1971, disaster struck the small community when a major avalanche hit the area, killing four. The ski area was soon abandoned, while the lodge remains standing to this day. That winter, Stevens Pass saw extremely high snow levels. On the morning of January 24, 1971, an avalanche swept down the 5500-foot Alpine Ridge to the north of Yodelin. It sheared off the upper floor of a cabin, killing owners Bart and Nancy Edgars. Two children, Peggy Dean, 12, and Kenneth Lewis, 10, were killed in a nearby cabin. Slides in the area were estimated at 60 feet deep and closed Highway 2 east and west of the Pass. The closed highway stranded weekend skiers and other travelers. Paul and Nancy Burton bought a lot in the new Yodelin community in 1969 and had a mountain cabin built for their family of six. The following is their recollections of the events that weekend. The Day of the Avalanches Nancy Burton It was in the early hours of the morning of January 24, 1971 that a booming voice and the sound of the back door opening awoke me in our Yodelin cabin. I was out of bed and at the door in seconds. Dick Woodcock, District Forest Ranger, told us that an avalanche had hit two cabins in the Yodelin area. There were fatalities. They were evacuating everyone at Yodelin, and a Thiokol (snow cat) would come for us shortly. We knew immediately one of the two cabins the avalanche from Alpine Ridge might have hit. It had to be the Edgar’s cabin. They had had trouble with slides before. Snow had pushed in the top of their Dutch door and pushed snow into part of their cabin twice in the past. They had cabled their cabin to a large rock the summer of 1970 as a precaution against further avalanches. In the afternoon of January 23, we chatted with Bart Edgars about a book on avalanches that he had borrowed from the Seattle Public Library. He said, “It is a fascinating book, and you should read it”. He had told us in the past about his ideas to make his cabin safe from avalanches. The ranger confirmed our suspicion that the Edgar’s cabin was hit by the slide, and also informed us that the Stoen’s cabin next door had been demolished. We immediately got ready to leave our cabin. The night before we had packed our clothes so we could get an early start for the ski slopes. We would bring the duffle bag that was ready to go and other essentials and we would leave anything we didn’t need. The ranger said, he felt our cabin wasn’t in danger, but they were evacuating everyone. We had discussed the danger of an avalanche previously. Because of a break of the old trees between our cabins and the steep slope, there had not been slides on our lot at least for the last fifty years. We told the children who were sleeping upstairs. Ellen, 13, had heard the noise below and was awake. Jean, 10, was quickly awakened. Even eight year-old Bobby, who usually was impossible to get up in the morning responded quickly, and within five minutes he was ready to go. We would let the baby, 17 month-old Katie, sleep until we heard the Thiokol. Then the wait began. The Thiokol was to come for us “within a few minutes.” It was more than an hour. Every noise sounded like the noise of that machine. Ellen would call “it is coming.” It was the wind. Then it was Jean’s time to say, “I hear it.” Wrong again. Finally, the Thiokol arrived. The four children, Paul, the dog and Meredith Sample, our neighbor, loaded onto the flat bed of the Thiokol. Katie and I rode in the cabin with Jim Sullivan, the Stevens Pass manager. We made the trip out over the snow-covered road, which was impassable by cars, in about ten minutes. The Thiokol passed by the slide area and the scene of the disaster. It was a somber sight. Although nature was kind and covered its damage with a fresh layer of snow, there were signs of debris, including a mattress and a piece of a roof. The Stoen cabin was still standing. The top floor of the Edgars cabin was sheared off and transported to the edge of the road. From a distance, it looked like nothing had hit it. The front and sides of the top floor of the cabin were intact. We learned that the two Edgars girls and their parents were staying in the Edgar’s cabin. The Lewis family and the Dean family, a total of nine people, were staying at the Stoen cabin. As we rode by the damaged cabins, we saw two familiar faces, Jules, the contractor who had built our cabin and his son. Jules and others from Leavenworth had heard the news about 4 a.m. in the morning, and immediately came up to help in the rescue operations. Word of the disaster had come from a survivor at the Stoen cabin, who had run to the highway and hailed a passing snowplow. The driver radioed his dispatcher and called for help. The tragedy was reported to Wendell Carlson, owner of the Yodelin ski area. The rescue was quickly organized. Yodelin employees were first at the site and worked to remove the survivors. Members of the ski patrol at Stevens Pass were alerted about 2 a.m., according to a ski patrol member. “Five of us hastily grabbed emergency equipment and loaded the gear in a truck.” They took along an avalanche cache, a 7’ long chest filled with shovels, head lamps and probing poles and headed for the slide area. When they arrived and surveyed the damage, they radioed back to the Pass for other ski patrol members, who were available to come, on the double. The Stoen’s cabin looked as if nothing had hit it on the front and sides of the cabin, as we rode by. The avalanche had blown through the upper level from the gable end facing the mountain and out the other end. The rescuers used axes and saws to cut through the Stoen’s roof. After shoveling debris and snow, they came across “Billy Go” Lewis, huddled under a large beam broke loose from the cabin. The beam saved the Lewis family, except for Kenneth, by forming a pocket of air where they could survive. The Lewis family was dug out after three hours. The rescuers learned there were nine people in the cabin the night before. Twelve-year-old Peggy Dean had been killed. The other members of the Dean family and a guest were uninjured. Bart and Nancy Edgars were killed in the slide and found next door in their second-floor bedroom nearly covered with debris. Cindy and Debbie Edgars, their daughters, were sleeping on the lower floor, but were not found for many hours. Rescuing the Edgar Girls Paul Burton After safely evacuating Nancy and our four children to the Yodelin Lodge, I hiked back to the scene of the avalanche to assist in any way possible. Arriving on scene, I saw perhaps 20 to 30 rescuers digging and spelling each other off, as it was hard physical labor to shovel the heavy wet snow. Some of the rescuers were members of the Stevens Pass and Yodelin Ski Patrols, while others were volunteers who had learned of the avalanche. Many had been there digging most of the night. Further, the snow continued to fall heavily, and a watch had been stationed to warn of any further avalanches that might descend upon the group. I observed the top floor of the Edgar cabin had been sheared off by the avalanche and was resting awkwardly near the road. Although men were digging haphazardly, looking for debris and bodies, they were not finding much. As I studied the wreckage of the top floor, I observed it was well down the hillside from the location of the Edgar cabin, which was located near a large tree further up the hill. I then realized the lower main floor of the cabin must be completely buried and not visible to the rescuers. I learned from Wendell Carlson that all persons were accounted for except the two Edgar Girls; Debbie and Cindy. They were still missing, and the search was concentrated on locating them. As I analyzed the scene, it was evident the Edgar cabin top floor had been carried near the road by the avalanche. But the lower floor was not visible. Thus the 2 girls must still be buried somewhere in the main floor of the buried cabin. I told Wendell Carlson and his foreman, Bob Marcy, about my analysis. They had been on scene all night and were fatigued and heartbroken over the loss of life and devastation. They listened to my conclusion; both did a double take and agreed the digging was indeed in the wrong area. They immediately spoke with the Ski Patrol leader and organized an avalanche probe search. About 10 men hiked up to where we surmised the buried wreckage would be and started a probe line. Upon command each person thrust their probe into the snow; if nothing was detected the line advanced a step and probed again. Within a few minutes the probes hit debris and we quickly probed to establish the outer boundaries of the buried cabin. The diggers immediately started digging again; as they dug, pieces of the cabin were located, cleared out, and removed. Heavy timbers and wall framing were cut with a chain saw and axes. Wendell Carlson surmised the girls would be on a sleeper sofa in the living room with its back against the kitchen wall. Thus, if we could locate the kitchen, we could locate the wall between the kitchen and living room and hopefully the sleeper sofa. Very soon the diggers found the back door to the kitchen. This enabled us to reorient the digging toward the inside kitchen wall. By this time, the excavation was 6 to 8 feet deep and the digging was going slowly. The diggers at the bottom had to shovel the heavy snow up to one or more diggers on the side of the excavation. Those diggers on the side had to shovel the heavy snow up 2 or 3 feet higher to the next diggers perched on the side of the excavation, and who then shoveled the snow another 2 to 3 feet up to the next diggers until it could be tossed out of the excavation. It was hard work, and as you tired you handed your shovel to another digger. As the digging progressed, we finally came across the collapsed inner kitchen wall. It had collapsed inward and we were now confident we could locate the sleeper sofa with the girls. As we dug snow away from the top edge of the collapsed wall, we were heartened to hear a noise from within: it was the Edgar’s dog, which crawled out from under the collapsed wall to daylight. This greatly lifted the spirits of the rescuers as we realized the dog probably was with the girls and obviously there was enough air. With renewed energy, enough snow was quickly shoveled off the top of the collapsed wall to enable the edge to be lifted about 12 inches. One of the rescuers leaned down and yelled the girls’ names and they answered! He told them he would pull them out after more snow was removed. Frantic digging ensued and soon the edge of the wall was lifted up enough for one of the rescuers to crawl in on his belly. He spoke with them to ascertain they were physically OK. He reached one of the girls and pulled her out feet first under the collapsed wall. He then crawled in and pulled out the other girl. Both were somewhat dazed to see daylight, the group of rescuers, and started to realize what had happened. By now they had been entombed for about 12 hours. Although they could hear activity, they had no idea what was happening. We had been cautioned not to tell them their parents were both dead. As they were pulled out, cheers erupted from the rescuers. The girls were quickly loaded on litters and carried to a waiting ambulance for the trip to Wenatchee. By then, all of us began to comprehend the miracle of their safe rescue and many high fives were exchanged. It was evident the girls were saved from being crushed by the heavy snow by the kitchen wall, which had collapsed inward on top of the sleeper sofa. The high back of the sofa had held the wall off the girls as they lay there. This preserved both physical space and air space for them to survive under the snow. They must have been terribly frightened and traumatized by their entombment and the approaching sounds of their rescue.

No matter how cynical you become, it's not enough to keep up. Jane Wagner/Lily Tomlin

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Bernardo
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PostThu Jan 12, 2023 6:22 pm 
Wow. Thanks for posting.

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cascadetraverser
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PostSat Jan 28, 2023 4:50 pm 
Mrs. Edgars was an elementary teacher at North Beach Elementary School at the time; I was a student there in 1971 and that was a sad day for all us kids; she was a great teacher and person.

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trestle
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PostMon Jan 30, 2023 9:41 am 
Sky Hiker wrote:
with Yodelin it was trees removed for the ski slopes
The ski terrain and lifts at Yodelin were on the other side of the highway and creek from where the fatal slides occurred and were unrelated.

"Life favors the prepared." - Edna Mode
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Bruce Albert
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PostMon Jan 30, 2023 4:08 pm 
The original timber I think had been burnt by or in conjunction with the railroad. Fairly barren at the time of the slides, the slope above the Yodelin cabins is now increasingly timbered. I believe there is only one active slide path at this time. Following closure of the area, one of the Yodelin chairs was moved west to become the Tye Mill chair at Stevens. This accounts for the odd aftermarket tower base flanges on that lift which appear to have been welded on in the parking lot. Discrepancies between engineering drawings and the actual steel of the top terminal F Section, discovered when we upgraded that lift in 1999, suggested that it was older than thought and had actually been a used lift when installed at Yodelin. The other Yodelin chair traveled south to become the High Campbell lift at Crystal. This if I recall correctly was another amorphodite machine featuring a Riblet drive terminal and Hall line equipment and towers.

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PostFri Feb 03, 2023 10:37 am 
Bruce Albert wrote:
I believe there is only one active slide path at this time.
There are multiple slide paths, including some new ones. Granted, slides like the one that caused the fatalities, which was only a couple hundred feet long and started at low elevation, are less likely. But there were numerous other unoccupied cabins destroyed at that time by slides which started from higher up, both on Alpine Ridge, and on Lichtenberg on the north side of Nason Creek. In recent times there have been slides that covered portions of our road, and slides near the border of the development which brought down large amounts of timber. When a slide starts near the top of the mountain, it makes it's own path.

No matter how cynical you become, it's not enough to keep up. Jane Wagner/Lily Tomlin
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DWB27
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PostFri Feb 03, 2023 12:08 pm 
The one Yodelin lift became the original Stevens Pass Tye Mill double lift. It was a bit short so you had to hike up to the loading point. This lift was replaced about 20 years ago with the original Hogs Back Triple when Hogs Back was replaced with the present high speed quad. Speaking of moved chairlifts. Loup Loup's (Twisp) lift was originally at Crystal and was replaced with the present high Speed 6 seater.

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others." - H. Jackson Brown
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Bruce Albert
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PostSat Feb 04, 2023 10:59 am 
DWB27 wrote:
It was a bit short so you had to hike up to the loading point.
The installation at Stevens was apparently longer than at Yodelin, evidenced by the fact that the rope had two splices, one of which was said to be a 'Courtney' splice, done by Ray Courtney of Stehekin. The 'high' ramps of older chairs were a carryover from times when deep snowpacks were the norm and little pushing was done to maintain snow grades. Tye Mill loading is a deep snow area and while that ramp was a pretty good hike early season it wasn't much of a hike by March.
DWB27 wrote:
This lift was replaced about 20 years ago with the original Hogs Back Triple when Hogs Back was replaced with the present high speed quad.
Sort of. The drive terminal was entirely new except for the APU, and all towers were reused with gauge extenders on the line equipment. Clips, and chair baskets, but not the bails, on the triple version of Tye Mill are from the old Hogsback lift, as is the return bullwheel. Reusing the latter proved to be a large pain in the ass, as it is 11' line gauge and an old design to boot on a lift that is otherwise 12' gauge. To re use it, guage extention was welded to the top F section, the bullwheel had a reaction ring added to combat chair swing, and bullwheel retention to meet code The first couple of winters the reaction ring design failed and had to be replaced with a burlier one AND one of the bearings spun a race, so out it came and off to the doctor it went. Additionally, that wheel is narrower gauge than line gauge so a taper is done in towers 9, 10, and 11 which is a forever pain in the ass as well because that causes liners to run hard inside and need frequent replacement. It would have been better and more economical to have just sprung for a new wheel. Too soon old, too late smart; that is a really nice lift in spite of all the quirks. That was our first variable freq AC drive which is a maintenance and operation dream. The pictures below were taken during a liner replacement in 2011 and show the added reaction ring and bullwheel retention if you know where to look.

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Bruce Albert
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PostSat Feb 04, 2023 11:03 am 
CC wrote:
There are multiple slide paths, including some new ones.
Thank you for setting that straight. My source for that claim was Sven J, whose family had a cabin in Yodelin forever, maybe since its inception, and who pointed out to me what he claimed was the remaining active path. Regrettably, Sven can no longer be asked.

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