The summit of Mt. Pugh in late July 2022. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

The summit of Mt. Pugh in late July 2022. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

Skagit County dentist dies in fall on Mt. Pugh near Darrington

Matthew Gifford, 56, died of blunt force injuries Aug. 13, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Friday.

DARRINGTON — A dentist from Anacortes fell to his death while summitting 7,201-foot Mount Pugh last weekend south of Darrington.

The deceased was identified Friday as Matthew Gifford, 56. He died of blunt force injuries Aug. 13, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office determined.

The hike is a demanding one, the Washington Trails Association notes. The elevation gain is over 5,000 feet in just over five miles, with steep dropoffs and some rock scrambling required near the final ascent.

After a two-year mission in South Africa for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Gifford graduated with his dentistry degree from the University of Washington in 1994, an obituary noted. In 2017, he moved from Sedro-Woolley to Anacortes.

“Matthew spent countless hours serving in his local church and volunteering dental services to those in need, both locally and abroad,” the obituary reads. “He was dedicated to his vocation and taught his children the principle of hard work.”

His favorite times were spent hiking or enjoying barbecue, according to the obituary, which notes Gifford died in his “beloved North Cascades.”

Gifford was a skilled conversationalist and woodworker, as well. He was always eager to talk about the latest history or science book he’d read.

Gifford is survived by his six children. A celebration of life is set for Sunday at his home in Sedro-Woolley.

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