Two people were caught in Tahoe avalanches in the backcountry over the weekend, on Saturday December 26. One was a skier and the other a snowmobiler. Both escaped serious injuries.

Carson Pass – Skier

Two skiers on Saturday afternoon were ascending Nipple Peak near Carson Pass when one accidentally triggered a slide.

The skiers were ascending opposite sides of a bowl above treeline when a slab gave way and caught the skier. The skier deployed his airbag and his head was just underneath the surface when the slide ended at the bottom in the trees.

The other skier was out of the path and avoided the slide.

Carson Pass Tahoe avalanche photo, forest service
Carson Pass avalanche, skier locations marked in red and blue

Little Truckee Summit – Snowmobiler

The other avalanche was in the Tahoe National Forest in the Little Truckee Summit region.

A snowmobiler was cognizant of the avalanche forecast as his group worked its way into the Webber Lake area. But they were rerouted due to “wind-scoured ridges and exposed rock.”

“We were side-hilling and in a momentary lapse of judgment, or the fact that we were just moving along too fast, I popped out of the trees onto an exposed face. I immediately recognized the hazard, but immediately saw the snow fracture above me and propagate across the ridge.”

The snowmobiler had little choice and attempted to outrun the slide. But he was caught while dropping into the treeline.

The rider was thrown from the sled and buried up to the helmet against a tree. The avalanche was about 280 feet in length.

The group witnessed the event and was there about a minute later to provide assistance. The rider was uninjured and recovered the machine that was buried in about 6 feet of snow.

Little Truckee Summit Tahoe avalanche, forest service
Little Truckee Summit avalanche which caught a snowmobiler


The Tahoe avalanches took place on steep slopes of 40 degrees or more. Officials are advising users to choose slopes that are 30 degrees or less.

“Whumpfing, shooting cracks, recent avalanches, and unstable snow pit test results are all indications of unstable snow in the area,” said a statement. “Do not underestimate potential avalanche size, potential run out distance, or the hazard from connected terrain above or to the side. Think bigger avalanche than expected.”

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