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This site was created as a journal about adventure in the mountains, on the bike, in the ocean and enjoying the great outdoors. From time to time I will post these experiences so others may learn more about them and hopefully enjoy them as well.

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2009-01-11

Avalanche Kills Skier In-Bounds At Squaw

On Christmas morning at the Lake Tahoe resorts, it was a dream day. A strong and cold winter storm had dropped several feet of light powder. The type people from Utah brag about. The type that falls in these parts on occasion but not regularly. Over the past week the storm had dropped around 10 feet of snow, 2 overnight.

However, at around 11:00 a.m. two skiers skiing together in the Red Dogs were separated, and after one of them was not able to locate his friend, he contacted local ski patrol who used their dog teams and skills to find the skier, identified as Randal C. Davis, age 21 of Tahoe City. When they found him, he was buried under several feet of snow, and already dead. According to local patrolers, there was evidence of trauma, possibly caused by trees and debris.

This is very tragic, that a young person would be killed in an avalanche, in bounds at a resort. But it is a sign of the subtle dangers of what we do and we should not take it for granted. In a recent New York Times article, it was pointed out that there have been three deaths this year in bounds at resorts. The other two were at Snowbird and Jackson Hole.

Basically, avalanche forecasters point to early season warm storms, followed by rain, which has made a layer of ice, easy for later snow to slide off of, and the recent storms have deposited a tremendous amount of snow on top of this layer. Some even think this will create dangerous slides very far into the season. In fact there have been over 22 people killed in the US and Canada this season already, pointing to a high death count.

What can be done? Well sometimes, not much, but anybody can take basic precautions, and use their sense of the snow and surroundings. It would be advisable to take a course available to anybody interested in tackling this type of terrain. One idea for in-bounds skiers, although it likely would not have helped here, would be to wear RECCO reflectors, that make it easier for patrolers to find you in a slide. Or visit one of the following sites:

www.fsavalanche.org
www.avalanche.org

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