Above average Sierra snowpack for the month of February continues, with California at 190% of normal snowpack for this time of year. With all this snow, the ski patrol team at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe is urging skiers to be extremely cautious of avalanche danger.
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Eaglecrest Ski Area, AK, confirmed a large inbounds avalanche in a closed area of the resort. Crews using beacons, probes, dogs, and RECCO equipment searched the scene but found nobody trapped. The resort had received 25″ of fresh snow in the previous five days. The slide, in the East Bowl Chutes, was seven feet deep and ran for 100 yards.
On many winter days explosions can be heard echoing across many ski areas. These are the sounds of avalanche mitigation.
There are a few ways the ski patrol can mitigate avalanche risks. While the explosive business is the most dramatic two other methods are used as well. Ski cutting and compaction.
“We don't do any mitigation outside of the resort and so it's 100% on the on the user, on themselves; we do worry about it from a rescue perspective but we do not do anything to mitigate that hazard," Andy Van Houten, snow safety director of Park City Mountain, said.
Last week an avalanche was reported in the Dutch Draw area of Park City, Utah between the lifts Peak Five and Ninety-Nine 90. According to Van Houten the avalanche occurred in the back country. "We worked with the Department of Public Safety helicopter," he said. "We're able to establish that nobody was involved. We had all of our witnesses accounted for, all is good.”
A North Caucasus avalanche struck a skiing area in the region of Karachai-Cherkessia. Russian authorities say as many as 12 people may have been buried under snow.
Russia’s Emergency Ministry said on January 18 that the avalanche hit the area around the resort town of Dombai. On Mussa-Achitara mountain at around 1:30 p.m. local time.
Rescue work to locate and extract those trapped by the avalanche is under way.
The wall of snow buried two ski equipment rental stands and damaged a cafe.
Dombai is a popular skiing resort in the North Caucasus.
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.
A total of three people died in an avalanche that struck the Otdelnaya Gora ski resort in northern Russia overnight, investigators said on Saturday. A fourth family member was injured.
Between four and six huts at Otdelnaya Gora were buried by the snow, according to Russian media reports.
A search and rescue operation involving more than 200 people and 29 vehicles was launched.
January 7 marks one year since the tragic Silver Mountain avalanche in Idaho. Three skiers were killed and four others were buried in the snow of the avalanche and survived.
The avalanche was unintentionally triggered by skiers. It ran over 900 feet down the slope and fell about 450 vertical feet.
One of the four survivors said he is still feeling some of the emotions that he felt this time last year.
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.