A 21-year-old skier died in a tree well at Bridger Bowl ski area, MT on Tuesday. The resort had seen 11″ of fresh snow in the previous 48-hours.
Responding patrollers performed CPR in an attempt to revive the as yet unnamed skier, but were unfortunately unsuccessful.
Bridger Bowl released the following statement Tuesday evening:
It is with great regret that Bridger Bowl reports a fatality within the ski area boundary on February 16, 2021. A 21-year-old skier was reported missing this afternoon, a description was given, and a search ensued. Shortly thereafter, the missing skier was found by Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol in a tree well. Although found unresponsive, life-saving attempts were made.
This accident is a terribly unfortunate reminder that tree wells are an inherent risk of skiing and riding. Best practice is to ski and ride with a partner keeping them in sight, especially in deep snow. If someone is missing, call ski patrol immediately.
“On behalf of all of us at Bridger Bowl, I would like to convey our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the loved one lost in this tragic incident,” expressed General Manager Bob Petitt.
A snowboarder died in a tree well at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY on Monday 15th February. The resort had seen 22″ of fresh snow in the days leading up to the accident.
Tree well and deep snow suffocation is a serious problem in the Western USA and Canada.
Incidents occur with deep snow accumulations and tree well immersions, where a skier or snowboarder falls into an area of deep, unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized.
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.