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Avalanche Victims Had Met Before

February 1, 2002

EDMONDS, Wash. (AP) _ Ten years ago, Georgia Lynne Bakke helped rescue Lawrence Gordon Duff after an avalanche in Canada broke both his legs.

They fell in love, married and never lost their appetite for backcountry skiing. They were skiing earlier this week when an avalanche in the Selkirk Range of British Columbia claimed both their lives, along with that of a third skier, Susan Majeski McKnight, 53.

Bakke, a metallurgical engineer, was celebrating her 42nd birthday. Duff, a paralegal, was 54.

Jeff Gfroerer, a licensed guide and manager of the cabins where the skiers were staying, said he warned the group not to venture onto the slopes.

``It was a beautiful day,″ he said Wednesday, ``but we’d just had five days of very intense weather, a lot of snow.″

The group arrived by helicopter at the cabins at the 7,000-foot level near Kaslo, about 30 miles north of the U.S. border.

They left with radio signal beacons, avalanche probes, shovels and gear for climbing. Bakke, Duff and McKnight were down a few hundred feet when another skier in their group kicked off to follow, apparently triggering the slide.

``It was massive,″ Gfroerer said. ``I’ve rarely seen a slide of that magnitude.″

McKnight, a nurse, had been on several other outings with Bakke and Duff, said her husband, Stanley.

``They were not reckless people,″ he said. ``They were taking a calculated risk, which is there with many sports and is true with backcountry skiing. The reality is that there is always avalanche danger in the winter.″

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