‘He lived for snowmobiling’

Whatcom County avalanche takes the life of Luke Rohde
By Brian Soergel | Mar 14, 2018

You couldn’t keep Luke Rohde off his snowmobile for long. Everybody knew that.

“When he rode, he was so happy,” said his father, Korey Rohde, on Tuesday. “You can ask everybody. He lived for snowmobiling. And for someone to be that passionate about something is truly amazing.”

Family, friends and the snowmobiling world are mourning the loss of Luke and his upbeat energy, forever gone after an avalanche swept him down a gully on Park Butte near Mount Baker in Whatcom County on Saturday, March 10.

Luke was 27, a local guy. He grew up in Esperance, attending Westgate Elementary and College Place Middle, graduating from Edmonds-Woodway High in 2008.

Luke worked at Ballard Sheet Metal. He was a sheet metal fabricator and welder, just like his dad and two uncles. He started right after graduation, and his loss has hit the business hard.

“It’s been a tough week for the company and his family,” said Lisa Valadez, architectural project manager. “When he wasn’t working, he was always searching for snow. He started snowmobiling at his family’s cabin and fell in love. Everyone loved Luke.”

“The best part of Luke was he danced and sang like no one was watching,” said Allyse Bogue, his cousin.

“Luke really knew who he was and what he enjoyed in life. I will really miss spending time with him. He was truly a gift to everyone he met. I just want the world to know how amazing he was. God, I can't believe he is gone. He's was just a damn amazing kid.”

Tributes are pouring in on social media, and videos are popping up on YouTube for Luke, who was considered a pro snowmobiler. Sponsors flocked to him, and he was a founding member of a group called NorthWest Freeriders.

The website Alpine Assassins, which is dedicated to snowmobiling, posted the following on its Facebook page:

“We lost a teammate, friend, brother and all-around badass yesterday. … There are no words to explain how important this individual was to us and meant to our family. As everyone who knew him knows, there isn't a bad or mean bone in his body. Luke was the definition of a good person, always doing right and liking and treating everyone kind and always having fun. We will miss the hell out of this man, but he will never be forgotten.”

Luke also was a contributor to Mountain Sledder magazine and appeared in “Counter Balance,” a 2013 documentary on snowmobiling.


The Northwest Avalanche Center confirmed Rohde’s death on March 10, the fourth in the Mount Baker area this season.

The avalanche was triggered just below the summit on a northeast aspect near 5,400 feet, the center reported. The avalanche was 200 feet wide and 4 feet deep.

Rohde was riding with friends, who attempted CPR without success, Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel said. No one else was injured. A helicopter crew from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office was among rescuers who rushed to the scene.

“We had a full air crew out preparing for hoist training,” said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton. “We were contacted for help and were ready.”

Luke was always careful when riding, his father said. He should know, as he’s an avid snowmobiler himself. Both he and his son have been profiled by Joydigger.com, which bills itself as “the face of freeride snowmobiling.” The site has three tribute videos to Luke.

A celebration

Services for Luke have not been finalized, Korey Rohde said.

“I’m trying to figure out where to have a celebration of life for Luke,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to rent the Mariners’ stadium. People are coming from all over the country. I mean, everybody loved my kid. It’s amazing. His smile and his ability to walk into a room and see a child and be able to talk to them, and then for him to be able to talk to a grown-up ...  He just lit up the room, and people loved him.”

Korey said he’s touched by the hundreds of comments on social media about his son.

“That love,” he said. “I’m just overwhelmed.”

Molly Rohde, Luke’s cousin, is printing stickers picturing Luke on a snowmobile. She is selling them for $10, with proceeds going to Luke’s parents to help with funeral costs. She will be selling them from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, at Dick’s Drive-In in Edmonds at 21910 Highway 99.





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