Deadly avalanche at California ski resort that once hosted Olympics


The avalanche occurred on steep slopes in the GS Gully area. Michael Gross, vice president of mountain operations, said ski patrols had been on the slopes checking the avalanche conditions since Sunday.

“They’ve been up there doing control work, evaluating weather conditions, setting up all safety markings, hazard markings, et cetera, to get them prepared for today’s opening,” Gross said at a news conference Wednesday.

The cause of the avalanche is under investigation, officials said. It happened as a powerful storm was expected to bring as much as 61 centimetres of snow to the highest elevations by early Thursday.

Palisades, the site for the 1960 Winter Olympics, is on the western side of Lake Tahoe, about 64 kilometres from Reno, Nevada. Winds at the top of Palisades Resort were gusting between 31 mph and 38 mph at the time of the avalanche.

Dan Lavely, 67, of Reno is a season pass holder at Palisades and skied mostly at Alpine Meadows on Monday when there was very little snow and the KT-22 lift was closed.

The KT-22 run along the side of the lift is where the giant slalom was held during the 1960 Olympics, he said.

“Really good skiers love it because it’s really steep,” he said. “I remember when I was really young I was skiing around there. I fell over and slid like two-thirds of the way down the mountain. There was no way to stop because it’s just so steep.”

The death Wednesday was the first US avalanche fatality of the season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which monitors nationwide.

A 2020 avalanche at Alpine Meadows killed one skier and seriously injured another a day after a major storm. Another avalanche at the resort in March 1982 killed seven people, including several employees



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