The man killed by an avalanche at Mount Charleston, NV, on Monday has been named as Punan Zhou, 32, of Las Vegas. Initial reports claimed he was a hiker. He was backcountry skiing with a group of friends.
According to the coroner’s office, he died from blunt force trauma, and his death was ruled an accident.
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The five skiers were on the Mummy Springs Trail when the avalanche occurred. One of the skiers triggered the slide, which swept up Zhou and carried him 500 feet down the mountain.
His friends located him using their beacons and performed CPR for 30 minutes, but sadly Zhou succumbed to his injuries. They then contacted authorities who helped bring Zhou down the mountain. The entire operation took about three hours.
“This tragic accident is a reminder of the dangerous conditions that can occur in the backcountry of Mt. Charleston. If you plan on coming up to the mountain, please be prepared.”
– Sgt. Matt Marlow with LVMPD
The area had received a foot of new snow, and a winter storm warning was in effect, although no avalanche alerts were active.
The adjacent Lee Canyon ski area was closed for the day, allowing crews to assess and make the area safe.
The fatality is only the third avalanche-related death in Nevada since the 2009/10 season. In December 2016, a snowboarder was killed in a closed section of Mount Rose, and in February 2021, a snowmobiler was killed in the Ruby Mountains near Castle Lake.
There have been six avalanche fatalities in the US this winter and one in Canada.