2 Skiers Injured in Avalanche After Leaving Heavenly Mountain Resort, CA

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The Minden Mile. Credit: YouTube

Two men were caught in an avalanche yesterday while skiing in an out-of-bounds area by Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, CA.

“We can confirm that an out-of-bounds avalanche occurred earlier today beyond the ski area boundary. Heavenly Mountain Resort places the highest value on the safety of our guests and employees. Within the ski area boundaries, Ski Patrol performs avalanche mitigation work and provides emergency response. Given the large amount of terrain outside our boundaries, Patrol does not ordinarily provide avalanche mitigation or emergency response to those areas. However, in this instance, our Ski Patrol team did respond and is working alongside local search-and-rescue teams to assess the area and conduct necessary activity as the result of this out-of-bounds avalanche event. There are two confirmed injuries of backcountry skiers who were in the area – they are being treated at nearby hospitals.

Guests who wish to access backcountry terrain from the resort are encouraged to do so through designated access points only, which often provide important warnings and may provide snow condition/avalanche danger information or the phone numbers for Sierra Avalanche Center or similar organizations. Guests leaving Heavenly Mountain Resort boundaries should be experienced and knowledgeable about backcountry travel, as well as prepared with the appropriate gear and safety equipment.”

– Heavenly’s statement

The men were part of a group doing The Minden Mile, from the backside of Heavenly to the bottom of Kingsbury Grade. The Minden Mile is a small hike from the Sky Chair at Heavenly to the top of Monument Peak, giving you nearly a mile of descent to the valley floor below, and it only comes in every couple of years, depending on snow coverage. The group was equipped with avalanche gear, including beacons.

The Minden Mile.

Both skiers were taken to local hospitals for treatment. Their injuries and current condition are unknown.

Multiple agencies responded to the incident. Lake Valley Fire, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, a JPA ambulance, and CHP’s H-20 helicopter hoisted rescue crews down to the snow to assist. Patrollers from Heavenly Resort assisted too.

The avalanche warning was considerable in the Sierra yesterday, and several avalanches have been reported in the Lake Tahoe area over the past few days. A report has not yet been published on the SAC website.

“New snow and strong winds have created slabs of wind drifted snow in exposed areas.  The new storm snow may have problems bonding to the old snow surface in many locations.  Watch for signs of unstable snow, like recent avalanches or cracking in the new storm snow, and move to lower angle terrain if you see instability.”

– Sierra Avalanche Center Thursday forecast

Thursday’s forecast. Credit: SAC

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