66-year-old man killed in avalanche at Tahoe ski resort

A man died and another person was injured in an avalanche Wednesday morning at Palisades Tahoe, a ski resort in Olympic Valley, California.

“The avalanche caused one fatality and one injury,” the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said in an update about four hours after the snow slide.

On Wednesday night the man who died was named as Kenneth Kidd, 66, who lives in the Truckee and Point Reyes areas of the state.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Kidd,” the sheriff’s office said.

The other person who was buried sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

No one else has been reported missing, the sheriff’s office said. Smith said that all search efforts have concluded and that there is “nobody else up on the mountain as a result of the avalanche.”

Both the person who died and the person who was injured were guests visiting from outside the area, said Michael Gross, the vice president of mountain operations at Palisades Tahoe.

Two others were caught in the snow slide, Gross said: One was “extracted” by her partner, and the other was “assisted” by other guests.

Gross said he was not sure how deeply people were buried in the snow.

The resort closed both sides of the mountain for the rest of Wednesday.

Image: Rescues crews work at the scene of an avalanche at a California ski resort near Lake Tahoe
Rescues crews work at the scene of an avalanche at a California ski resort near Lake Tahoe on Jan. 10, 2024 in Calif. Mark Sponsler via AP

The avalanche, which happened about 9:30 a.m. local time, was on the Palisades side of the resort mountain, Palisades Tahoe said. The sheriff’s office added that it was specifically above the GS bowl area of KT-22.

One man who witnessed the avalanche described seeing many people buried and calling for help.

“Multiple people were buried and several were screaming as all of GS Bowl slid from top to bottom” Darian Shirazi wrote on X. “My condolences to the family of the snowboarder who passed away. This was a shocking and terrifying experience. Ski safe.”

KT-22 opened for the season at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Gross said. He said the ski patrol has been “up there doing avalanche control assessments since Sunday,” which includes evaluating the weather and setting up safety and hazard markings ahead of the ski season.

There was a risk for an avalanche Wednesday, according to the Sierra Avalanche Center, which pointed to a strong winter storm in the area as the cause.

Gross added that it is “absolutely” typical to open a part of the mountain despite strong weather and heavy snow warnings.

“We’ll evaluate the conditions, and based on our expertise and our experience and the history, if we deem the conditions safe, then we will open it,” Gross said.

Avalanche mitigation, Gross said, includes looking at weather data — both historical and current — as well as models, including wind speed, snow path, density and wind direction.

Video from Live Storms Media, or LSM, shows numerous fire trucks and police vehicles at the snowy resort. The outlet reported medical personnel were working on patients in the resort’s medical building.

It described the avalanche as a “major” one that resulted in “numerous entrapments and injuries.” Olympic Valley firefighters told LSM that at least one patient was receiving CPR and that another was being treated for a broken leg.

“It’s currently all hands on deck,” a firefighter told LSM.

The Olympic Valley Fire Department responded to reports of a person with a “lower leg injury” at the Palisades Tahoe medical clinic around 10 a.m. local time.

“Shortly thereafter, my office started getting word of a potential avalanche at Palisades Tahoe,” Fire Chief Brad Chisholm said at the news conference.

Chisholm said he responded to the scene, “started an incident with our dispatch” and then began “pooling resources.”

He added that the majority of the incident happened up on the hill and that it was managed by the resort.

The sheriff’s office said Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue was activated. The sheriff’s office is investigating the coroner’s case, it said in an update.

The resort sits on the western side of Lake Tahoe and is just more than 40 miles from Reno.