Large amounts of snow accumulating are great news for ski resorts. However, those large snow totals in a short period of time also bring inherent danger with the possibility of an avalanche.
That danger-factor surfaced on Monday when a snowboarder died after getting caught in an avalanche at Donner Ski Ranch, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department and the resort’s operations director.
Steven Anderson, 49, of Hirschdale, was on his first snowboarding outing of the season. Hirschdale is an unincorporated community outside Truckee.
It was the third avalanche at a Lake Tahoe ski resort in the past two days. An avalanche took place Monday at Alpine Meadows involving a ski patrol person.
On Sunday at Squaw Valley ski resort, an avalanche injured two people.
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.
Alpine Meadows: A veteran ski patroller was taken to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno after being buried in a slide Monday morning that had been intentionally set with an explosive device.
The Alpine patroller and other team members were positioned in an area believed to be out of harms way, but the triggered avalanche ended up breaking much higher and wider than expected.
The area was closed to the public at the time of the avalanche. After uncovering the buried patroller, members of the ski patrol team immediately began CPR. The patroller was transported to an ambulance and then transported via Care Flight to Renown Hospital.
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.