A skier was killed in an avalanche on Friday on Sun Valley Resort’s Bald Mountain, Idaho. The coroner says the avalanche was reported at 2:31 p.m. Friday and that Michael was located about 15 minutes later by the Sun Valley Ski Patrol. Resuscitation efforts were performed while the victim was being transported to a local medical clinic, but they were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 3:31 p.m. at Wood River Medical Center on Friday due to suffocation.
An investigation was conducted by the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center:
“(The) skier was killed by an avalanche in an off-trail area near the bottom of Fire Trail on Seattle Ridge,” reported Lundy in the center’s Saturday advisory. “The victim was wearing a beacon and was found buried five feet deep in a group of trees just above the (Lower) Broadway groomed run. The avalanche broke two to three feet deep on faceted snow near the ground, was 40 to 50 feet wide, and ran about 200 vertical feet. Ski patrol had him dug out within 15 minutes of the initial report, began administering CPR, and transported the victim to the base of the ski area.”
On Friday, Sun Valley Resort issued a prepared statement that the skier was buried at 2:31 p.m. by an avalanche off the side of the Lower Broadway ski run, below Fire Trail Lane and that Sun Valley Ski Patrol members located him at 2:46 p.m.
The avalanche occurred some 30 yards above a groomed portion of Lower Broadway, in a forested area. After a few days of silence, Sun Valley Resort answered the looming question on Tuesday morning of whether Michael was skiing in an open or closed area. A resort spokesman said the victiml was skiing “inbounds.”
Witnesses said other skiers in the general area rushed to move away from the site of the avalanche. Even though Michael was skiing inbounds, it appears “almost certain” that he triggered the avalanche.
Forecasters at the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center wrote this week, “In a region known for a weaker snowpack, we are seeing avalanches this winter that indicate we are dealing with an exceptional problem.
“We have received more reports of human-triggered avalanches than we ever have by this time of year, yet not many people are going into the backcountry. Most of the people out there are staying in low-angle terrain and remotely triggering all these slides.” Remote triggering occurs when pressure spreads from skiers to start slides that occur yards away from them.