In this exclusive Wellington avalanche haunting interview, Karen Frazier shares her story about the paranormal and her latest undertaking, a documentary called Avalanche of Spirits: The Ghosts of Wellington.
Karen Frazier and the Paranormal
Karen Frazier's interest in the paranormal began when she lived in an apartment formerly used as military housing during World War II. Soon after Karen moved into her apartment strange things began to happen. "Latched cupboard doors would open and close," Karen says during a recent interview. "There were strange sounds, too. The oddest thing, however, would happen at night as I lay in bed. The mattress would depress beside me and I could feel a breath across my cheek as a voice whispered, 'I love you' in my ear."
Those strange occurrences made Karen seek an explanation. "I still don't have good answers to the things that happened there, but it set me on my lifelong quest to learn more about the paranormal," she explains.
Following a Paranormal Path
That path Karen began in her mid-twenties has grown over the years. Over a year ago, she began writing for a startup paranormal online magazine, Paranormal Underground and several months later become a partner in the magazine.
Evolution of Ghost Knight Media
The Paranormal Underground wanted to do other projects and created Ghost Knight Media to serve as an umbrella company. "We wanted to publish books, make documentaries and possibly publish other magazines as well," Karen explains.
First Documentary Film
Ghost Knight Media chose the scene of what has been called the worst avalanche in Washington's recorded history for their first documentary. The avalanche happened just on the other side of the Cascade Tunnel in Stevens Pass in Wellington, Washington.
A Tragic Tale
In February 1910, a passenger and mail train were caught just outside the Wellington depot due to a nine-day blizzard that dumped a foot of snow every hour onto the stranded travelers. Some reports claim the largest snowfall during the blizzard was eleven feet in one day.
On March 1, 1910, the snow turned to rain and loosened a ten-foot-high wall of snow that rumbled down the mountainside on top of the sleeping passengers. 96 people perished, while 23 were pulled from the wreckage.
The Wellington Avalanche Haunting Interview
During the making of the documentary, the Wellington avalanche haunting came to life.
LTK: How did you select Wellington for your first documentary?
Karen: A good friend put me in touch with two guys who wanted to make documentaries about haunted places in Washington. Their partnership fell through, but one of the men, Bill Robards, suggested that we make a documentary ourselves. It seemed like a perfect project for Ghost Knight Media.
I first heard about Wellington several months ago from my friend and paranormal investigator, Regan Vacknitz. Her team captured footage of a partial apparition and an EVP. The EVP is included in the documentary. You can hear several voices talking about an avalanche and it ends with someone yelling, "Avalanche, get out!"
After visiting Wellington and talking to Bert and Jayme Coates of NWPIA (Northwest Paranormal Investigation Agency), the team that has investigated the site for five years, I knew it was the perfect subject for our documentary.
The Filming Process
LTK: How long did it take to make the documentary?
Karen: We've been working on the documentary since July 11 of 2009. We were racing the weather. Wellington gets snowed in about mid-November.
We had two days of filming with our full team, and my husband Jim and I have returned numerous times to get extra footage. Jim and I are frantically editing right now to meet our release date of March 1, 2010 that marks the 100 year anniversary of the disaster.
Karen and the Crew at Wellington
LTK: What were your thoughts when you first stepped onto the site?
Karen: I felt connected to Wellington before I even got there. When I actually visited Wellington, it was almost overwhelming. I was on the fence about the reality of ghosts until I visited Wellington. By the time I left, I wasn't.
Not only is it a stunningly gorgeous place, but it has an energy that is undeniable. For the most part, that energy is positive. Now that Wellington is snowed in for the winter, I'm having withdrawal. I can feel it calling to me, but it won't be accessible until the spring thaw in late May or early June. I think I would have visited Wellington over and over again regardless of whether or not we were making a documentary about it.
Ghostly Activities and Technical Issues
LTK: Did you experience any of the technical problems that are commonly associated with spirit activity?Karen: At one point when my husband Jim was filming, the batteries drained in his camera and in two IR lights. They all shut off at the same moment. It happened in a spot we call Area 61 (where we know an entity to be present). All three items were on separate power supplies with separate switches, so the fact that they all shut off simultaneously was certainly surprising. After a moment, they came back on and functioned normally.
Spontaneous battery drain is quite common at Wellington. We had recorders with brand new batteries die and cameras refused to work. Wellington is in the middle of the wilderness. There are no available power supplies except what you pack in with you.
Tools of the Trade
LTK: What kind of ghost-hunting equipment did you use during your investigation?
Karen: We worked with several different teams of paranormal investigators, all with slightly different approaches to paranormal investigation. Some rely on technical equipment and others rely more on people. It was interesting to see the hybrid of the two investigative styles.
For the most part, we had the standard technical fare: cameras, digital voice recorders, video and EMF detectors. We set-up motion-activated, infrared, game cameras. There were also psychic mediums present.
LTK: What can viewers expect to see?
Karen: We captured several EVPs. One is perhaps the strangest EVP I've ever heard. We also have some interesting photographs and video clips. As for personal experiences, there were definitely a lot. We were having a party on October 26 up at Wellington to celebrate the end of filming and thank the spirits there for allowing us to film there. Two of us saw full-bodied apparitions.
A lot of people were touched by something unseen. There were disembodied voices. There was an apparition we called "No Face" who showed himself to people. There was a child spirit that sometimes followed people home. He came home with me once, and seems to visit me occasionally. I think he likes my kids and dogs.
Our Director of Photography, Stephen Johston, has Asperger's Syndrome, and he believes it causes him to experience hauntings differently than the rest of us. There were several times at Wellington where he mentally "zoned out" with no recollection of the experience. We do have that documented on film. I've never seen him do it anywhere but at Wellington, so it is certainly notable as an anomalous experience.
Watch the Documentary
LTK: Where can readers view the documentary?
Karen: We don't have a solid distribution plan in place yet, although we have some contacts that we are working with. We do plan to offer the video both as streaming video and download on the Paranormal Underground website.
Future Documentaries in the Works
LTK: Are there anymore documentaries scheduled?Karen: We would like to do more documentaries. What we're looking for are places that haven't been widely covered by other paranormal shows that also have an interesting historical story attached to them.
I have written a book called Supernatural! Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe. It will be published by Ghost Knight Media. When things get less crazy busy, I plan to write a book about my experiences at Wellington. I am working on a few other paranormal projects, but I have confidentiality agreements in place and can't really discuss them right now.
Tragedy at Wellington Leaves an Impression
Karen says that her experience at Welling has left her changed. "It is an amazing place. I know something now that I didn't know before I went to Wellington. I always wondered if the human soul existed, and to me, Wellington is proof that it does. Knowing that and having the experiences I've had there changed how I live my life. It removed some of the fear of the unknown."
Karen goes on to say, "Wellington has had just as profound of an impact on others who have spent any amount of time there, as well. I consider myself really fortunate that Bill approached me about making documentaries and that NWPIA, (Northwest Paranormal Investigation Agency) and APART (Auburn Paranormal Activities Research Team) were willing to share such a wonderful place not only with me, but with everyone who sees our documentary."