This past week a patroller with Squaw Ski Patrol had a fatal accident during avalanche control activities. We are deeply saddened by this incident. Our thoughts go out to the family and loved ones of Joe Zuiches, and the Squaw Valley Ski Patrol: women and men who risk their own lives to ensure the safety of all guests. Zuiches was an integral part of our mountain community, and we will continue to rally around his family in this time of need.
24 feet of snow in just a few weeks means it's imperative more than ever to be safe while out riding. These tips can help to save lives, so take note if you're new to the sport or have been skiing/riding for decades. If you want to learn more about avalanche safety, backcountry safety, or general tips on what do to in conditions like we've had (huge, wet storms!) check out Sierra Avalanche Center, which has various classes around the area, or this one geared specifically toward women: SAFE AS Clinic.
Below we're sharing top (standard) tips from our friends at Sugar Bowl Resort (if you don't receive their emails) because they're excellent and we agree! Sugar Bowl is just a hop, skip or jump from us, and the skiing there right now is insanely good as well: sugarbowl.com
1. If you are unsure of your ability in deep snow, stay on groomed runs; do not go into the trees.
2. Always ski and ride with a partner.
3. Always stay in visual contact so that your partner(s) can see you if you fall.
4. Stay close enough to either pull or dig out a partner should they fall in deep snow. If you have any question about what "close enough" to assist someone in a tree well is, hold your breath while you are reading this. The amount of time before you need air may be how much time your partner has to pull or dig you out of danger.
5. Remember, if you lose visual contact with your partner you could lose your friend.
It is important to know that most people who have died in deep snow or tree well accidents had been skiing or riding with "partners" at the time of their accident. Unfortunately, none of these partners were in visual contact so they were not able to be of help in a timely manner.
Always use good judgment, ski with a partner, maintain visual contact and have a safe and fun day on the mountain!