AVALANCHE: RESORT NOT TO BLAME FOR FATAL SLIDE
17th July 2019
Last modified on December 19th, 2019
Two died in-bounds in Taos, New Mexico, last January. Report clears the resort, but should area have been closed?
26-year-old Matthew Zonghetti and 22-year-old Corey Borg-Massanari were skiing in-bounds in Taos after heavy snow on a run that was declared open.
“It’s extremely rare to have an avalanche take place inbounds in regular runs on a ski mountain,” he said.
“From everything we have learned, there were dozens and dozens of people on the mountain.”
“We didn’t find anything in our review, any red flags, anything they weren’t doing that’s in their permit,” said Adam LaDell to US media.
“I’m very confident, where I’d go up and ride it and have no questions. Unfortunately things happen, very unfortunately.”
The US has a different approach to avalanche safety than in Europe.
In general in Europe the marked runs and pistes are controlled, but anything off piste is skied at people’s own risk except in so-called ‘freeride areas’.
In North America the in-bounds terrain, which can be similar to off piste, is only open if it is deemed to be safe.
In this case it was not safe, as the fatal result shows.
“The main thing to understand with off piste safety is that it is never black and white – it is a grey area, where calculations are made and then experience and judgements reach a conclusion,” observed the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.
“Clearly all the correct protocol was observed in this case with the resort and ski patrol doing everything they could.
“Is it the resort’s fault that two people died, or just the inherent risk of the mountains and skiing fresh powder snow?”
For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news