The Sierra Avalanche Center in the greater Lake Tahoe area offers a detailed analysis of the snow conditions leading up to the fatal avalanche that took place there over the weekend.
Reminder: On Saturday morning, December 10, 2016, a 64 year old male skier went missing after being caught in an avalanche. The skier and a friend had reportedly hiked up Mt. Rose ski resort in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, to ski the Jackpot Chutes. The Jackpot Chutes area were closed at the time. The man’s body was recovered the following day.
The avalanche that this skier triggered likely started as a wind slab failure and stepped down onto the persistent weak layer of facets near the base of the snowpack. This avalanche started on a 40-45 degree slope and pulled out adjacent slopes that reached up to 50 degrees in steepness. The initial avalanche was likely 350-550 ft in width and connected multiple start zones. It was at least a D3 on the destructive size scale. The crown measured between 3 and 5 ft. in depth.