According to Idaho News, a 34-year-old man from Maridian, ID was found unresponsive in a tree well on at 1:30pm on Saturday, February 25th, 2017. Derek Klein was found in a tree well near Can-Can Ski Run. Members of the Sun Valley Ski Patrol performed CPR on him and they took him to River Run base area, where he was transferred to St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. Sadly, efforts were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 3:00pm Saturday.
A tree well is a void or depression that forms around the base of a tree, and most likely under the branches that hang from those trees, disguising the void. This void may contain a mix of low hanging branches, loose snow, and air. While skiing or snowboarding, it is very difficult to determine if a tree well exists, so skiers and riders should treat every tree the same.
Skiers and snowboarders must understand the risks of deep snow, educate themselves, and strictly adhere to safety recommendations, including always skiing or riding within sight of a partner, especially when off a designated trail, within the trees, or a gladed area. To stay safe on the mountain, expand your tree well knowledge.