Skier Dies, Another Hurt in Avalanche at Lake Tahoe Ski Resort

The avalanche at Alpine Meadows left one male skier dead and another with severe lower body injuries, officials said

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An avalanche Friday morning at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe killed one skier and seriously injured another, officials said.

The avalanche, which was reported around 10:16 a.m., happened in an area between Scott Chute and Promised Land — two advanced level ski runs — near Scott Chair, ski resort officials said. The area consists of some of the steepest terrain at the resort, where a series of expert runs snake through trees, past cliffs and down narrow chutes.

A male skier, identified as 34-year-old Cole Comstock of Blairsden, Calif., was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. Another male skier suffered severe lower body injuries and was transported to a hospital.

"It's really sad," snowboarder Shawn Bowles said. "That could be anybody. Been hearing lots of people talk about it."

Witnesses reported seeing no other victims, according to officials, and no one else was reported missing, leading search teams to declare the search complete at 11:45 a.m.

It was not immediately clear what caused the avalanche. Officials said avalanche mitigation work had been performed in the area before the resort opened for the day.

A storm on Thursday dumped snow across the region. The Sierra Avalanche Center had warned of dangerous avalanche conditions for all elevations. Its website said there was "a high degree of uncertainty in regards to snowpack instability near and below treeline."

The storm dumped up to 25 inches of snow at the top of the resort, said Edan Weishahn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Reno. She said 1 to 2 feet of snow fell in the surrounding mountains over a 24-hour period.

The tragedy came at the start of a busy holiday weekend where hundreds of people flock to ski resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe, oftentimes enduring hours-long traffic backup and treacherous road conditions to reach the region's snow-covered slopes.

An avalanche at Alpine Meadows in March 1982 killed seven people, including several employees of the ski resort. It struck several buildings, including the main lodge and two chairlifts, and buried the resort's parking lot. One woman was discovered after five days, buried in the remains of the ski chalet.

Alpine Meadows, about 7 miles from Tahoe City, is next to Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 winter Olympics. The two resorts are co-owned by Alterra Mountain Co. and operated as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

On its website, Alpine Meadows touts itself as a "picturesque playground for families and off-the-radar thrill-seekers." The property has more than 100 trails across 2,400 acres, groomed runs and chalet-style lodges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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