Thirty-nine years ago, on March 31st, 1982 a large avalanche hit Alpine Meadows ski resort in California killing seven people. It had snowed hard for four days and the resort was closed but there were still some people who had to report to work.
On March 31, 1982, at 15:45 a large soft-slab natural avalanche released at Alpine Meadows Ski Area. The avalanche, releasing from the Buttress, Pond and Poma Rocks slide paths, swept down into the base area and parking lot of the ski area. The avalanche hit the Summit Chairlift Terminal building, the main ski lodge, several small buildings, and two chairlifts, and it buried the parking lot under 10 to 20 feet of snow. The Summit Terminal Building, which housed the ski patrol, avalanche control headquarters, lift operations, ski school and the main avalanche rescue cache, was completely destroyed. The day lodge sustained superficial damage, the two chairlifts were extensively damaged, and several small buildings were destroyed, as were several over-the-snow vehicles.
Of the seven people in the Summit Building at the time of the avalanche, three were killed. Three were recovered alive almost immediately, and one young woman was recovered alive after a five-day burial. Four people were buried in the parking lot and were killed. Altogether twelve people and one dog were victims of the avalanche. Seven of those twelve were killed. The dog survived a one-day burial. Total monetary loss was approximately 1.6 million dollars.
– Larry Heywood, The Avalanche Review, VOL. 10, NO. 5, MARCH 1992
To commemorate the upcoming 40th anniversary of the disaster, a feature length documentary based on the events and circumstances surrounding the 1982 avalanche in Alpine Meadows, CA, will be released in Fall 2021.