Home News Local News Aneroid avalanche claims Enterprise skier
Aneroid avalanche claims Enterprise skier
ENTERPRISE — An Enterprise man died in an avalanche Saturday while backcountry skiing in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
Roger T. Roepke, 50, was one of three people buried in the snowslide in the Aneroid Lake Basin.
Another was Roepke’s 15-year-old son, whose head was sticking out of the snow.
Don Woodhouse, 48, of Brush Prairie, Wash., was the third person buried. An air pocket helped him survive for the half hour it took his companions to dig him out. The two survivors were not injured.
The three were part of a nine-member backcountry skiing group.
When Roepke was extricated, his companions performed CPR and other life support measures for 30 minutes, Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen said.
The quarter-mile-long slab avalanche occurred about 1 p.m.
“It was huge,” Undersheriff Steve Rogers said.
The slide happened about one-half mile above the Aneroid cabins where the group had been staying since Thursday. The cabins are part of the old “Silvertip” property now owned by Ted Halton and the Halton Tractor Co., a CAT dealership in Portland.
The ski group made it out to Wallowa Lake about 1:40 p.m. Sunday to report the accident.
More than 20 people, including Wallowa County Search and Rescue, the U.S. Forest Service, professional
backcountry guides from Wallowa County and the Moscow, Idaho, area, and local backcountry skiing volunteers are working to bring Roepke out.
The matter is still under investigation and some details are not yet available, such as whether the group was using transceiver locator beacons.
The East Fork Wallowa River Trail is six miles long in passing Roger Lake to reach Aneroid Lake. There is a 2,850-foot elevation gain south from Wallowa Lake to 7,500-foot Aneroid Lake.
Snow had been falling in the area about the last four days, Steen said.
The group took the proper precaution to dig snow pits to determine snow conditions such as crystallization and metamorphoses, Steen said. They determined the avalanche danger to be moderate.
Roepke is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two sons. The Roepkes were thought to have moved to Enterprise from the Reno area about two years ago, and have been quite involved in the community. The couple operated Black Rock Engineering in Enterprise.
Some 20 or more years ago a woman died in an avalanche in the Aneroid area.
The sheriff’s office reminds backcountry travelers that the avalanche danger can be extreme this time of year, and advises that travelers go prepared, including taking all the proper gear such as avalanche transceivers, probes and shovels.