New Details Emerge from the Deadly Avalanche at Palisades Tahoe

On Wednesday morning, a devastating avalanche hit the Palisades Tahoe, leading to one fatality and an extensive search and rescue operation. Now, new details have emerged from the tragic incident, including witness reports.

The incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. near the G.S. Gully area of the KT-22 peak, prompting swift action by patrol and mountain operations teams. The resort subsequently closed all lifts on both the Palisades and Alpine Meadows sides for the remainder of the day.

The skier who lost their life has been identified as 66-year-old Kenneth Kidd, a resident of Point Reyes and the Truckee Tahoe area, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

Two other individuals caught in the avalanche were rescued by fellow guests. One was assisted by her partner, and the other received help from other resort visitors. All three, including the buried skier, were transported to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries and later released.

Storm Jacobs, a 16-year-old skier on the lift above the avalanche as it happened, explained the tragic scene to the Los Angeles Times.

When the avalanche began, witnesses from the chairlift began to yell at the unsuspecting skiers below. Screams of “avalanche!” echoed through the bowl as the snow began to bury the skiers.

“I kind of just saw it start small,” he said, “and then it picked up a ton of snow…We were all in shock, like, ‘Oh my goodness, we could have just watched people die.”

Ski patrol assesses the snow each morning before opening and conducts snow blasting at weak areas, which includes placing explosives in the snow and knocking down anything loose. That was the case on Wednesday, but Mother Nature cannot be controlled or predicted. The debris field from the avalanche measured 150 feet wide, 450 feet long, and 10 feet deep.

For the ski patrol and resort management working on Monday, it was a hard pill to swallow.

“This is a very sad day for my team and everyone here,” said Dee Byrne, the president and chief operating officer of the resort, at the news conference. “This is a dynamic situation and we’re still undergoing investigation.”

The Sierra Avalanche Center had previously issued a warning of “considerable” avalanche danger for the region on Wednesday due to the storm and strong winds, which was expected to heighten throughout the day.

For many people, the incident brought tragic memories of the deadly 1982 avalanche at Alpine Meadows, which is now part of Palisades Tahoe and connected by a chairlift. That avalanched killed 7 people and buried its main lodge in 20 feet of snow. That avalanche is now memorialized with the award-winning documentary Buried, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Palisades Tahoe will reopen on Thursday, but the area around KT-22 will remain closed for ongoing investigation.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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