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Tuesday March 6, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

There have been a spate of avalanche deaths in the western United States. PlanetSKI reports from the USA. UPDATED




Over the past two weeks, six people have died in avalanches in Washington State.

The normal average is 3.8 deaths per year in the state.

A further four have died in California.

There have been 18 avalanche fatalities in the US this winter.

There have been three fatalities in Idaho and two in Montana.

Last weekend the ski patrol at Mammoth Mountain in California was carrying out clearance work at the top of the resort when a huge avalanche was triggered.

It swept down the mountain and into an open run that was crowded with skiers and snowboarders.

A full-scale emergency was declared.

The resort was closed and three people on the slopes were dug out.

Another six people, all employees, were also hit toward the bottom of a ski lift.

They were also able to free themselves but suffered minor injuries.

The search operation went of for 6 hours with 200 people involved.

There were no fatalities.

"The first searches with transceivers, avalanche dogs and a RECCO search have not produced any results," Mammoth said on Twitter.

The resort has now re-opened and a full investigation is underway.

See this video report from CBS Los Angeles:

There have been a series of further accidents in California and other states, some fatal after heavy snow:

  • A mother and child died Kirkwood Ski Resort 50-year-old Olga Perkovic and her 7-year-old son, Aaron Goodstein were taking a short cut past a building when the snow slid from the roof, burying them.  Olga Perkovic was on holiday with her two other children and her mother.  Her mother raised the alarm when they failed to return. It has been described by the Sheriff's office as a "freak accident".
  • A snowboarder died at China Peak Mountain Resort. Blake Smith, who was 36-years old fell head first into a 2m embankment of fresh snow and suffocated when he was unable to free himself.
  •  A snowboarder and skier died on Mt. Bachelor in Oregon in separate incidents on the same day. Each fell into holes at the base of trees and were covered by snow.
  •  A 42-year old snowboarder died at Squaw Valley in California. He was reported missing by friends and his body was found the next day.  
  • In Washington state two snowmobilers died and a third was seriously injured in an avalanche. Zach Roundtree, 27, and James Larson, 41, were killed after the avalanche fully buried them in the snow. Kyle Ottwell, 26, was also buried in the snow, but survived. The avalanche happened near Esmeralda Peak, about an hour-and-a-half east of Seattle. Five people have died in avalanches in the state in the past wee.
  • In Bear Mountain in California a 5-year old girl was left dangling from a lift and passing skiers used a nearby mat as a safety net to help her to safety:

The authorities are urging extreme caution after the recent heavy snow.

In an avalanche in Squaw Valley several people were buried and the video below shows a frantic search underway and a man being found buried by the snow.

The state has had a disappointing winter for some after the huge amounts of last winter.

Across much of the USA conditions have improved and I have been in Idaho and Colorado, where snow levels are down from last year.

This week in Breckenridge, Colorado, around 10cm of snow fell but the avalanche patrol was out on Tuesday setting of explosive charges to detonate avalanches.

Although the snowfall was moderate it was accompanied by high winds that may have caused dangerous conditions in some parts of the mountain where the snow built up.

Skiworld, Breckenridge, USA Breckenridge, USA
















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