Two Alpine Meadows avalanche lawsuits have been filed by the widow and a friend of a dead skier. They accuse the resort of negligently rushing to open the unsafe slopes for a busy holiday weekend.
Cole Comstock, 34, of Blairsden, California, was killed. His close friend Kaley Bloom was seriously injured. They were caught in an avalanche on an Alpine Meadows ski run on Jan. 17, 2020. Nobody else was seriously hurt.
The two Alpine meadows avalanche lawsuits were filed in Placer County Superior Court by Bloom and by Cole’s widow. They seek unspecified damages from Alpine Meadows. The allegations include negligence, gross negligence and breach of contract. Raymond’s lawsuit also alleged the resort was to blame for her late husband’s death.
The Park City Mountain Canyons Ski Patrol closed off its access to the backcountry adjacent to the resort. The unusual step was taken after a couple of recent deadly slides amid high avalanche danger. Prior to a couple of recent fatal avalanches there had been numerous others in past years as well.
A 31-year-old man died after being buried in an avalanche while skiing in the adjacent backcountry. He accessed it via special gates at Park City Mountain. More recently, a U of U helicopter responded to rescue two skiers. One was buried in an avalanche and died. They also accessed the backcountry via Park City Mountain.
The second avalanche death in two years in Dutch Draw, and at least the fourth in total, has spurred an Avalanche Risk Discussion.
The victim and his girlfriend exited the backcountry access gate atop the Ninety-Nine 90 Express. Then they hiked up the ridge before dropping in to snowboard down a run called Conehead. The victim went first, and when he was about halfway down his girlfriend followed. Then an avalanche occurred. The woman was not caught in the slide.
Some people have argued more should be done to warn skiers who may be unaware of the dangers posed by backcountry terrain. They could put resort personnel near the gate to inform people of the risk. Or require checking out with ski patrol and carrying an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. A check-out procedure is used at some other resorts.
Kevin Jack Steuterman, 31, died Friday, while snowboarding in the Dutch Draw area. Which is just off the 9990 chairlift in the Canyons area of Park City Ski Resort.
Steuterman was with his girlfriend around 10 a.m. when the avalanche occurred. According to the Utah Avalanche Center, Steuterman was buried under 2 feet of snow in a slide that was 150 feet wide and 400 feet long.
Steuterman was on a snowboard and his girlfriend was on skis. Neither was carrying avalanche rescue gear.
An avalanche survivor is talking about being buried by snow to encourage others to be safe while in the mountains. A year ago he had a life changing experience. He and some friends were snowboarding at Steamboat Resort when an avalanche was triggered above them.
Miraculously, he says his friends found him just as ski patrol was arriving. “I guess my buddies were saying they took my arm out and it just flopped and I was just blue.” He was taken to a hospital and was not injured.
He wants people to know that enjoying the mountains is still a good thing. Just make sure you go with people who have avalanche training.