Huge snow totals over a short period of time often create great conditions for skiing and snowboarding.
However, what these large totals of snow also create is danger. And that danger resulted in two people dying due to avalanche problems at Donner Ski Ranch and Alpine Meadows ski resorts.
An avalanche at Squaw Valley left two skiers injured, but no deaths resulted from the incident.
Alpine Meadows: After getting caught in an avalanche on Monday, an esteemed member of the resort’s ski patrol team died one day later.
Bill Foster passed away at Renown Hospital in Reno on Christmas day, according to a statement from Squaw Valley, which partners with Alpine.
“Bill was one of Alpine Meadows’ very best and most experienced professional ski patrollers,” the statement read. “Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers continue to be with Bill’s wife and all of their family and friends.”
Foster, 53, was on skis in the Sherwood Bowl about 10:45 a.m. Monday when the ski patrollers triggered an avalanche. The group was administering its routine snow safety at the time in an area that hadn’t yet opened for skiing and snowboarding.
A ski patrol member threw an explosive, triggering the avalanche. However, according to reports, it broke much higher and wider on the slope than expected and buried Foster in snow.
Foster was found within one minute and uncovered within eight minutes of the slide. Ski patrol quickly initiated CPR, and Foster was transported to an ambulance and then air-lifted by CareFlight helicopter to Renown.
Foster spent 28 years on the Alpine ski patrol.
Donner Ski Ranch: Steven Anderson, 49, died on Monday following an avalanche.
Anderson, who lived in Hirschdale, was on his first snowboarding outing of the season. Hirschdale is an unincorporated community outside Truckee
Nevada County sheriff’s deputies received a report from the Anderson’s friend, who reported that Anderson was overdue and might have been caught in an avalanche that happened earlier in the day.
By the time rescuers reached the man, Anderson had been buried in snow for about five hours.
A search dog found Anderson’s body about 1:30 p.m. under 2 to 3 feet of snow at the base of the avalanche. Reports said the wind had blown snow to depths of 7 feet or more where Anderson was snowboarding, which was inside the ski area’s boundaries near the main lodge.
Anderson was riding above the avalanche for some time, but his body was found at the base of the mountain under the snow near a rocky ridge.
Deputy reports indicate that there were several people skiing and snowboarding in the same area where the avalanche occurred, but Anderson was believed to be the only person caught in the slide.
Anderson’s friends said he had just moved back to the area and was enjoying his first day of the season on the hill.
“We had been telling ski patrol ‘we’re missing a guy, we’re missing a guy,’ but they didn’t start looking for him until two to three hours later,” said Katana Curven, Anderson’s friend.
Authorities said they did an initial search, but weren’t able to locate him. Crews were also restricted due to safety concerns caused by the unstable conditions.
As time passed, search crews from neighboring resorts assisted in the recovery and the victim was found.
Squaw Valley: According to Squaw Valley public relations manager Amelia Richmond, three snowboarders triggered the in-bounds slide at 9:50 a.m. on a portion of the KT-22 peak that impacted several skiers.
Fortunately, a ski patrol person riding a lift, along with several witnesses, reported the slide to Squaw officials. Several ski patrollers were there almost immediately to aid both conscious skiers, neither of whom were buried by the snow.
The two people suffered non-life threatening injuries.