A skier and snowboarder crossing unstable snow may have set off a pair of avalanches Wednesday along a ridge outside the Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Area, a sheriff's officer said.
A snowboarder was temporarily trapped by one of the slides but
was able to free himself, said Deputy Mike Sukau, who is in charge
of search and rescue operations for the El Dorado County Sheriff's
Tracks indicated that a skier was able to get out of the other
slide, which was on the other side of a ridge from the other
avalanche, Sukau said.
Officers conducted precautionary searches of the two slides
using dogs, probes and signaling devices that can detect people
under the snow, but found no victims, Sukau added.
He said there was a "high probability" that the weight of the
skier and snowboarder triggered the avalanches, he said.
"Obviously there was an increased avalanche danger today," he
said. "It may or may not have been a natural release. Certainly if
it's unstable and the snowpack is shocked by a snowboarder or skier
that can, in and of itself, cause enough instability to cause a
One avalanche was estimated to be 50 yards wide at the top,
narrowing to 25 yards at the base, and about 75 yards long. The
second slide was much larger, Sukau said.
The area where the slides occurred is off Highway 50 between
Strawberry and Echo Summit, he said.