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Skier Killed In In-Bounds Avalanche at Palisades Tahoe

Ski and Snow
by Tim Wenger Jan 10, 2024

A 66-year-old man was killed in an in-bounds avalanche at Palisade Tahoe resort in California on Wednesday. The avalanche took place at about 9:30 am near the top of the KT-22 lift, in an area popular with dedicated skiers and snowboarders. One other person suffered minor leg injuries, and two additional skiers were caught in the avalanche but escaped unharmed.

The Lake Tahoe area has received more than a foot of snowfall in recent days, with hazardous avalanche conditions and a winter storm warning in effect until early Thursday. The KT-22 lift opened for the season on Wednesday, with the avalanche occurring shortly after the first skiers arrived to the top of the mountain. Much of the terrain accessible via the lift is classified as difficult or extreme, and as the lift had just opened, the snowpack had yet to be packed down by ski traffic. This loose snowpack was topped by the heavy snowfall that blanketed the region this week, which made the weak layer of snow below susceptible to breaking upon triggering, which happened as the skiers attempted to make their way down the mountain Wednesday.

Palisades Tahoe closed following the incident and did not reopen for skiing on Wednesday. The Sierra Avalance Center reports Considerable avalanche danger through at least Thursday in the Lake Tahoe region, meaning skiers and snowboarders should avoid most slopes steeper than 30 degrees and take extra caution when traveling through, above, or underneath avalanche terrain. Although inbounds avalanches at ski areas are rare, one skier was killed at the Alpine Meadows section of Palisades Tahoe in 2020, according to the New York Times.

Palisades Tahoe ski patrol and local authorities stated that the area has been cleared and no further victims are believed to be caught in the debris field. The resort expects to open to the public on Thursday.

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