New Jersey mountain climber’s body recovered in Washington state

Colchuck Peak

Authorities recovered the body of a New Jersey man, who was killed while mountain climbing in Washington state, from the backcountry area where an avalanche on Colchuck Peak near Leavenworth last winter.

A hiker on Thursday found the body of 66-year-old Yun Park, of Palisades Park, N.J., the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said.

Park was one of three hikers killed as six people were attempting to climb the Northeast Couloir of Colchuck Peak on Feb. 19, 2023, when the lead climber triggered the avalanche about 1 p.m. A fourth member was injured.

The bodies of two of Park’s climbing partners had previously been recovered from the site of the Feb. 19 avalanche. They were among a group of six climbers climbing a steep, narrow gully when the snow slide occurred.

The hiker who discovered Park’s body reported it to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office that evening.

A helicopter rescue team with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office recovered Park’s body body on June 23, and turned it over to the Chelan County Coroner’s Office.

Colchuck Peak is an 8,705-foot mountain summit located in the Stuart Range, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Chelan County of Washington state.

The Colchuck Glacier, which lies on the northeast slopes of the peak, melts into Colchuck Lake. The mountain and glacier take their name from the lake, which in Chinook jargon means “cold water”.

The helan County Sheriff’s Office said a group of six was climbing the northwest couloir on Colchuck Peak on the south end of Colchuck Lake when the avalanche occurred and four climbers slid about 500 feet.

“One of those four survived the slide,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Reinfeld. “He was able to get to the three others and confirm that they were deceased, and there appeared to be trauma from the fall.”

The three killed include a 53-year-old man from Connecticut, a 60-year-old woman from New York, and a 66-year-old man from New Jersey, according to the sheriff’s office.

A 56-year-old man from New York survived but was injured.

Two other hikers saw the slide and were able to stay away, and a seventh member of the group hiked to Leavenworth for help. The hiker was able to contact the sheriff’s office at 8 a.m. Monday morning.

The sheriff’s office said the weather presented challenges for rescue crews.

“We also had some pretty significant snowfall overnight in the area as well as high winds,” said Reinfeld.

“I notice all the trees are knocked out,” said Reinfeld. “That’s probably due to an avalanche or something even more subtle. There are branches on one side of the trees, but on the uphill side, there are no branches.”

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