Beware the Early-Season Snowpack! | Remembering Annalise Kjohelde

Bryan O’Sullivan | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article

If you’re lucky enough to be within range of some fresh early snow, chances are you’re feeling tempted to get out those rock skis and make your first turns of the season.


Just remember that the roots, rocks and stumps that you can’t see under the blanket of fresh snow could be enough to not just twist a knee or snag a ski, but to kill you. Sadly, this is not a hypothetical scenario.

Almost exactly a year ago, 24 year old ski instructor Annalise Kjohelde hit a buried rock while skiing at Alpine Meadows, just a couple of weeks before the resort was due to open for the season. She suffered severe head trauma that led to her death several days later.

If you know your local terrain well enough, perhaps you can find a grassy area to ski – but if so, remember that grass is a poor anchor for snow, and you may be exposing yourself to avalanche danger.

Bottom line: it doesn’t matter what time of the season it is, or how much you’re starving for some snow, it doesn’t pay to let your guard down. Here’s to a careful and safe snow season for everyone!

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