To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly avalanche at Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho, and honor the three skiers who died — Carl Humphreys, Scott Parsons, and Molly Hubbard — the resort will host a memorial event on Thursday morning, January 7, 2021.
Four skiers survived the avalanche, including Rebecca Hurlen-Patano, who was able to extricate herself about being buried in two slides. She spent the past year recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally from the traumatic experience, and plans on attending the memorial. Countless first responders and ski patrollers from around the region assisted Silver Mountain ski patrollers during the initial search and rescue and subsequent search and recovery days. (Learn more: “Avy Dogs and Risk Assessment” – March 2020 issue.)
Hurlen-Patano, who has been a skier for 55 years and a Silver Mountain passholder for about 15 years, along with her fellow survivors — as well as Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center Director Jeff Thompson (and avy dog handler) and the parents of avalanche victim Molly Hubbard — wants January 7th to be an annual day to bring awareness to mountain safety.
Mountain Safety & Awareness
Last fall, Hurlen-Patano met John and Mary Hubbard, Molly’s parents, after encouraging them to visit Coeur d’Alene. She hosted a dinner at her home for the Hubbards to meet all the survivors as well as Thompson. “We started a relationship and have tried our best to maintain that to help process this trauma,” says Hurlen-Patano. “It’s difficult to survive an incident where you were in close proximity to those who died. Out of this horrific event, we are trying to create something good — trying to create an awareness of mountain safety, particularly at resorts.
“This idea of having something horrible turn into something positive is the only channel of energy that would be healthy for me. John and Mary feel the same way. Molly, their daughter, was a pay-it-forward kind of gal, so we had this concept of, let’s get everyone together and bring awareness to [in-bounds] avalanches.”
According to a statement shared by the group of survivors, “It is everyone’s hope to preserve [the victims’] memory and to raise awareness of avalanche safety. Going forward, we hope to use this day each year to raise money for Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center (IPAC) and avalanche education to continue advocacy for avalanche safety protocols.”
They encourage people to “make a donation to your local avalanche forecast center or search and rescue organization” and to donate to Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center (IPAC) if you live or ski in the Inland Northwest. (IPAC has been impacted by U.S. Forest Service budget cuts, as was reported in a news story from the September-October 2020 double issue.)
“I know we can’t ring bells for everyone who has been lost in an avalanche. But it’s nice that this one is being honored,” she says. “Ring a bell and be glad you’re alive. And then check your backcountry gear, make sure you have avy gear [and commit to taking it with you when you ski or ride].”
Participants from around the western United States will take part at their home mountains, including at Mt. Baker near Bellingham, Wash.; Snowbowl near Missoula, Montana; and at resorts in Utah, according to Hurlen-Patano.
“Let’s get healed. Let’s create an environment where we can be better educated,” says Hurlen-Patano. “We are behind the times [in the Inland Northwest] when it comes to our mountain awareness. We’re going to have a lot of people come to our area to ski. And we’re going to have more incidents of people caught in avalanches, on the frontside and backside. So let’s make sure people know what they’re doing.”
Here are the memorial events planned for the one-year anniversary on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
Silver Avalanche Memorial
Anyone, any place, on any mountain can join in a moment of silence at 11:04 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time). Then at 11:05 a.m., ring a bell, click your ski poles, or give a holler to the mountains.
Remembrance & Dedication Ceremony at Silver Mountain Resort
- 9:30 a.m.: Dedication Ceremony of memorial windchimes at the Mountain House.
- 11:04 a.m.: Lifts at Silver Mountain will be stopped for a moment of silence.
- 11:05 a.m.: Ringing of bells and chimes.
- 12:00 p.m.: Gathering in Moguls Lounge, located inside the Mountain House, to raise a pint in remembrance for those who passed and those who are living.
The memorial windchimes were handcrafted by Paul Hoskinson, a friend of avalanche victim Carl Humphreys, and will be installed along the Wardner Peak Traverse. Guests are encouraged to bring bells or use a bell-sounds smartphone app to help mark the end of silence.
Review our coverage of the Silver Mountain avalanche. Learn more about mountain awareness and avalanche safety.