On Friday March 2nd a snowmobilier triggered an avalanche in the Blue Lakes area near Carson Pass. According to KRNV News 4 Reno, the sledders friends were able to find him with their beacons and probes, and dig him out from 3-4 feet of settled snow debris. It was unfortunate that upon retrieving the body “the victim was obviously deceased.” The victim in this incident was a 35 year-old resident of Minden, NV, Daniel Kuhner.
Unofficial offers sincere thoughts and condolences to friends, family, and all involved in this incident.
Members of the Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC) went out to further investigate this incident on Monday, March 5th (above photo). Here’s the most recent observation video they’ve posted:
As you can see and hear from the SAC representative the Tahoe backcountry has been plagued by the combination of a persistent weak layer and up to five feet of new snow that has now claimed the lives of two people. I know you’ve heard it a lot in the past few days, and it’s something you must always be aware of, but please be extremely careful out in the Sierra backcountry right now. Even though our local snowpack danger has been downgraded and a similar advisory has been issued by The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center , there has been a great deal of instabilities going on throughout the greater Sierra Nevada snowpack this past week.
These are a few highlights from today’s avalanche advisory that are of note, although you can and should read the whole report linked here. “Large human triggered deep slab avalanches remain possible today both above and below treeline on NW-N-NE aspects. Areas near exposed rock outcrops and other similar trigger points are locations where triggering a deep slab avalanche is more likely. Observations are showing increasing variability regarding the stability of this weak layer around the forecast area. Locations of stable observations are often not very far away from locations indicating significant ongoing instability. Exercise caution and conservative decision making as it is easy to travel from areas of stability to areas instability over a short distance.”
Translation, you might perform a stability test that tells you there’s reasonably safe terrain to ski. However, several feet away that same slope angle and aspect might be volatile. Right now it’s not that simple to locate where the safer terrain to ride is since such variability exists with regard to stable slopes. Things will change once again as a current system impacts our area with cold temperatures, high winds, and light to potentially moderate precipitation through most of Tuesday. The winds will be gusting through Wednesday, but take note that the direction is forecasted to shift from SW to W to E by Wednesday.
You can read more about this incident and follow the evolution of our current snowpack at the SAC site linked here.