Oregon avalanche forecaster dies in snowslide he triggered while skiing

Mar 11, 2024, 3:25 PM

NORTH POWDER, Ore. (AP) — An avalanche forecaster died in a snowslide he triggered while skiing in eastern Oregon last week, officials said.

Nick Burks, 37, and a friend — both experienced and carrying avalanche air bags and beacons — were backcountry skiing the chute on Gunsight Mountain on Wednesday, near Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort.

His friend skied down first and watched as the avalanche was triggered and overtook Burks. The companion was able to locate Burks quickly by turning on his transceiver, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office said.

People at the ski lodge saw the avalanche happen and immediately told first responders, the agency said in a statement on Facebook.

Bystanders were performing CPR on Burks as deputies, firefighters, and search and rescue crews arrived, but the efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, the sheriff’s office said. The other skier wasn’t hurt.

The Northwest Avalanche Center said via Facebook that Nick had been part of their professional avalanche community for years. He worked as an avalanche forecaster for the Wallowa Avalanche Center in northeastern Oregon, and before that as part of the snow safety team at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski and Summer Resort southeast of Portland.

Avalanche forecasters evaluate mountain snow conditions and other weather factors to try to predict avalanche risks. The job, avalanche safety specialists say, has become more difficult in as climate change brings extreme weather, and growing numbers of skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers visit backcountry areas since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our backcountry community is small and we understand the tremendous grief many are experiencing,” the Wallowa Avalanche Center said in a statement on their website, adding that a full investigation would be done with a report to follow.

Eleven people have been killed in avalanches in the U.S. this year, according to Avalanche.org.

United States News

Associated Press

Jurors in Trump’s hush money trial zero in on testimony of key witnesses as deliberations resume

NEW YORK (AP) — The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial is to resume deliberations Thursday after asking to rehear potentially crucial testimony about the alleged hush money scheme at the heart of the history-making case. The 12-person jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours on Wednesday without reaching a verdict. Besides asking to […]

2 hours ago


Associated Press

Alito rejects calls to quit Supreme Court cases on Trump and Jan. 6 because of flag controversies

Justice Samuel Alito is rejecting calls to step aside from Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and Jan. 6 defendants, saying his wife hoisted the two controversial flags that flew above their homes.

4 hours ago


Associated Press

Nissan warns owners of older vehicles about risk of exploding air bag inflators

Nissan is urging the owners of about 84,000 older vehicles to stop driving them because their Takata air bag inflators have an increased risk of exploding in a crash and hurling dangerous metal fragments.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle police chief dismissed from top job amid discrimination, harassment lawsuits

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s embattled police chief has been dismissed, Mayor Bruce Harrel said Wednesday. Harrell said at a news conference that he met with Police Chief Adrian Diaz on Tuesday and they agreed Diaz should step down. He will work on special assignments for the mayor with the police department, Harrell said. Diaz’s departure […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Disneyland performers’ vote to unionize is certified by federal labor officials

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Character and parade performers at Disneyland in California are officially unionized. Federal labor officials said Wednesday that they’ve certified the results of a three-day election that took place earlier this month in Anaheim. Actors’ Equity Association will represent roughly 1,700 performers and assistants who help bring Disney’s popular characters to life […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan willing to spend millions to restore Flint properties ripped up by pipe replacement

DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan said it’s willing to step in and oversee property repairs at 1,900 homes in Flint where water pipes have been inspected or replaced but the grounds remain a mess. The city in March was found in civil contempt by a judge after blowing past deadlines to get the […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Oregon avalanche forecaster dies in snowslide he triggered while skiing