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Avalanche Forecaster, 37, Dies After Triggering Snowslide While Skiing with Friend

Nick Burks, 37, was "an integral part of our professional avalanche community for years," the Northwest Avalanche Center said

<p>Wallowa Avalanche Center</p> Nick Burks.

Wallowa Avalanche Center

Nick Burks.
  • Nick Burks, 37, died in an avalanche he triggered while backcountry skiing with a friend on Gunsight Mountain on March 6, officials said

  • Authorities said Burks, who worked as an avalanche forecaster, was described as an "experienced" backcountry skier

  • "Our backcountry community is small and we understand the tremendous grief many are experiencing," said the Wallowa Avalanche Center, where Burks recently worked

An avalanche forecaster died after he triggered a snowslide while skiing with a friend in Oregon, authorities said.


Nick Burks, 37, and his friend were backcountry skiing the chute on Gunsight Mountain on March 6 near the Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, according to the Baker County Sheriff's Office.

"The initial information indicated that two skiers were buried," officials said.

Authorities received a report of an avalanche just after 4:30 p.m. local time and responded to the scene. When responders arrived, bystanders were performing CPR on Burks, but their efforts failed, and he succumbed to his injuries.

Related: Skier, 27, Found Dead in Out-Of-Bounds Area at Vermont Resort Hours After Being Reported Missing

Burks' friend, William Sterling Sloop, 37, was uninjured. The sheriff's office said both were "experienced backcountry skiers and were equipped with avalanche air bags and beacons."

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"Sloop was the first to arrive at the bottom and watched Burks begin to make his way down. An avalanche was triggered and overtook Burks," authorities noted. "Sloop immediately turned on his transceiver and was able to locate Burks near a tree."

Related: Utah Skier, 57, Found Dead After Being Buried Under Avalanche

A group at the lodge witnessed the avalanche and notified first responders. They then made their way to the avalanche location and assisted with lifesaving efforts.

"We are grateful to those bystanders who immediately took action and performed CPR," the department added.

Related: Skier Sustains Life-Threatening Leg Injury After Triggering Avalanche on Mount Washington

The Northwest Avalanche Center said in a Facebook post that they were "heartbroken" by the man's death.

"Nick has been an integral part of our professional avalanche community for years," the center said. "Nick worked as a part of the snow safety team at Mt Hood Meadows ski area, and more recently, as an avalanche forecaster for the Wallowa Avalanche Center (WAC) in northeastern Oregon."

The Wallowa Avalanche Center said a full investigation and report will be released.

"Our backcountry community is small and we understand the tremendous grief many are experiencing," the WAC said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected."

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