According to the Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC) a second avalanche incident took place this past Friday, March 2nd. The accident involved a snowmobiler in the Carson Pass area who was unable to be rescued and passed away. Unofficial offers sincere thoughts and condolences to the victims friends, family and all involved.
Although the avalanche danger rating has dropped to moderate in recent days, and there has been cohesion and significant settling of the new storm snow that fell last week, the persistent January/February weak layer that took our friend last Thursday remains. Therefore, the potential for “large destructive human triggered avalanches” continues to be a very real threat in the Tahoe backcountry.
In the past several days many skiers and riders have been out enjoying the new snowfall. Please exercise extreme caution when out in the backcountry and choose your ascent and descent terrain wisely. This is always the case, but even more so now with this very volatile weak layer continuing to live in our snowpack. On Saturday, in arguably one of the “safer” backcountry areas of the West Shore, friends of mine heard what they described as an extremely unnerving whumpf as they were skinning up the peak. The whumpf or collapse of the snowpack heard by the one skinning was also felt by another member of the party 400+/- vertical feet away. This is very uncommon for us Sierra sliders to have to deal with such an ongoing instability issue. The Sierra Avalanche Center team is the best out there-please monitor their ongoing daily advisories and keep yourself as educated as possible before venturing out into the backcountry. They will have an update of the Friday incident after assessing the scene on Monday, March 5th.
Current available notes on the incident from SAC:
“A snowmobiler triggered this slide around 3:30 on March 2nd. The avalanche carried him down the slope and into trees. The slide buried snowmobiler. His partners located him and determined that he did not survive the avalanche and subsequent burial. Search and rescue recovered his body March 3rd after calling in Kirkwood Ski Patrol to mitigate the remaining avalanche hazard with explosives. The explosives triggered a second avalanche in the path to the climbers left of the snowmobile triggered slide.”
No further information is available at this time.
All photos courtesy of SAC