Patrol hard at work at Mammoth during last week's intense storms. Peter Morning photo.
Just one day after an inbounds avalanche buried five guests at Squaw Valley in California, a similar situation unfolded further south in the Golden State as eight people were partially buried in an inbounds slide at Mammoth Mountain.
Mammoth was beset with snow from the storm system that crushed the Sierra from last Thursday through this past weekend. The resort saw 5 feet of snow over a two-day period, making conditions considerably more difficult for local patrollers to control.
According to a press release, at around 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol was performing routine avalanche mitigation work in a closed area of the mountain when a large avalanche released on the Climax ski run.
"The avalanche traveled down Upper Dry Creek and terminated at the bottom lift terminal of High Five Express [Chair 5]," the press release stated. "The powder cloud from the avalanche extended about 100 meters into an area open to the public, where two guests were partially caught. Both were able to immediately free themselves without serious injury. Additionally, six employees working at the bottom of the closed lift were partially caught, but freed themselves quickly, suffering only minor injuries."
Per the press release, Mammoth's ski patrol immediately leapt into action, leading a six-hour search effort with the assistance of 200 employees and rescue dogs to search for any additional victims. No other burials were reported, and the resort closed all operations on Saturday before reopening on Sunday.
While the slide resulted in only minor injuries, it serves as another reminder of just how dangerous skiing and riding–even inbounds–can be after periods of intense snowfall.
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