"We are absolutely heartbroken" – respected avalanche forecaster found dead in apparent climbing accident

Rock climber, Yosemite, California
Matt Primomo was climbing solo and there were no witnesses to the accident (Image credit: Jonathan Kingston / Getty Images)

A respected avalanche forecaster has been found dead after an apparent rock climbing accident on Thursday. Matt Primomo, 40, was based in Washington where he worked as an Avalanche Specialist for the North West Avalanche Center.

Primomo was found dead at about 8:30 p.m. and it appeared he had suffered a fall while solo climbing at Icicle Buttress, a large roadside crag near Leavenworth that has a number of sport climbing and multi-pitch trad climbing routes. There were no witnesses to the accident.

In a Facebook post, the NWAC wrote that they were devastated by Primomo's death and would be closed on Tuesday to allow staff to grieve.

"Matt has been a key member of the NWAC family since 2017. His life in the mountains touched so many people. We are absolutely heartbroken."

Originally from Albany, NY, Primomo studied geography and outdoor recreation in Colorado before cutting his teeth with the Utah Department of Transportation as an avalanche forecaster. His bio for NWAC says his work involved him in tracking and writing about snowpack, winter weather patterns and large avalanche cycles. In the summer months, he worked as a mountain guide and has climbed classic peaks such as Mount Rainier and Denali. 

Piece of trad climbing gear close up

Icicle Buttress is a large roadside crag near Leavenworth that has a number of sport climbing and multi-pitch trad climbing routes (Image credit: epicurean)

Is rock climbing dangerous? 

Recreating outdoors always comes with some level of risk and it’s worth considering the dangers that you’re likely to incur so that you can make sure to have the appropriate safety training and gear. 

According to a study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, rock climbing accidents account for 10 percent of all mountain accidents and are rare but potentially fatal. The following are some of the common risks associated with rock climbing according to the study: minor injuries, falls, improper use of equipment, gear failure, falling rocks and weather conditions. Learn more in our article on rock climbing safety.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.