A ski patroller was killed today at Squaw Valley Ski Resort during avalanche mitigation work, prompting a closure of the ski area.
Joe Zuiches, a 42-year-old resident of Olympic Valley, was involved in an explosives-related incident on top of the Gold Coast Ridge at about 8:35 a.m., according to a report from the Sierra Sun. A statement put out by Squaw Valley stated the accident did not appear to be avalanche related. The North Tahoe Fire Protection District and Placer County Sheriff’s Office are on the ground at Squaw Valley and an investigation is underway into the exact details of the event.
Over 276 inches (23 feet) of snow has fallen at Squaw Valley since the New Year with the resort reporting a 100-inch total for the past seven days. With that amount of fresh snow, the control work needed to be done by resorts and resort staff is monumental, and not something to be taken lightly or for granted.
In the statement, Squaw offered its “deepest sympathies to the family and friends affected.” The deepest condolences are extended to the friends and family of Zuiches on behalf of FREESKIER, as well. Our hearts go out to patrollers everywhere.
Updates regarding the fatality can be found here.