An inbounds avalanche at Alpine Meadows, CA has killed one person and seriously injured another according to a press release from the resort. The Placer County Sheriff’s office has identified the deceased as 34-year-old Cole Comstock from Blairsden, CA.
At approximately 10:16 am today an avalanche was reported in the area between Scott Chute and Promised Land near Scott Chair at Alpine Meadows, within an open area of the resort. A male skier sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 11am. A second male skier sustained severe lower-body injuries and was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol responded immediately to the scene and completed a thorough search of the area with the help of additional resort personnel and members of the public using avalanche transceivers, probes, RECCO Rescue System technology, and avalanche rescue dog teams. Witnesses to the incident saw no other individuals involved, no additional individuals have been reported missing and the search was declared complete at 11:45am.
The entire Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows team, including all of the first responders, extend their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased. We are working closely with the families of all the affected individuals to ensure their continued care.
The cause of the avalanche is unknown at this time pending additional investigation with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. Avalanche mitigation work had been performed in the area prior to opening to skiers and riders for the day.
A fact sheet by the National Ski Areas Association that includes historic avalanche statistics can be found here.
An anonymous witness said he saw the slide from the chairlift. He told the RGJ that the avalanche happened in seconds, and was quiet.
“It happened just as you’d imagine, there was a lot of screaming,” he said
In a Tweet that went out at 11:20 am, the sheriff’s office wrote:
“Deputies are currently responding to an avalanche that occurred at Alpine Meadows this morning. Search and Rescue is responding as well, as there are several unaccounted victims.”
Placer County Sheriff’s deputies are currently responding to an avalanche that occurred at Alpine Meadows this morning. Search and Rescue is responding as well, as there are several unaccounted victims. More to follow. pic.twitter.com/F0UwdNbG5w
— Placer Sheriff (@PlacerSheriff) January 17, 2020
Emergency crews responded to the scene of the avalanche. One body was recovered and a second person was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Just after 12 pm, the sheriff’s office said search and rescue teams confirmed one fatality and one serious injury.
Alpine Meadows reported 15″ of fresh snow overnight and 25″ in the last 24-hours. The National Weather Service had issued a Winter Storm Warning and an Avalanche Watch for the Lake Tahoe area beginning at 7 am Thursday.
“Periods of high avalanche danger may occur from Thursday morning through Friday morning,” the weather service warned. “Forecast heavy snow and high wind may result in widespread avalanche activity in the mountains.”
We will update this story as more information becomes available.