40 years later: Alpine Meadows avalanche remembered
Four decades ago on the morning of March 31, 1982, Truckee Forest Service employee Bob Moore sat in his Truckee office when words that he’ll never forget popped over the radio.
“Major avalanche at Alpine Meadows.”
Moore recalled the events of that day, which took the lives of seven people and severely injured five others, during a 2007 interview with the Sierra Sun.
Roughly 15 years after that interview, local directors and producers Jared Drake and Steven Siig have teamed up to bring the story back to the surface through their documentary, “Buried: The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche.”
“We tell the story of the patrol and what they faced as the storm hit and the decisions that they faced as the storm rolled in,” Drake said in an interview with the Tahoe Daily Tribune. “We capture the spirit of the very tight knit family and a very unique group of patrollers here in Alpine, that were a combination of thrill seekers and climbers looking for a home in the mountains in the winter where they could go throw bombs and connect.”
The storm began five days prior to the March 31 avalanche, bringing more snow to an already 87-inch base. By March 30, the resort had closed to the public due to the conditions.
Disaster struck the following morning as a 3,200-foot avalanche swept across the ski area destroying buildings, damaging the lodge, flipping snowcats, trapping people in cabins, and ultimately, taking the lives of seven individuals.
“It was just total devastation at the bottom of the hill,” said Tom Anderson, a member of a rescue team, in a New York Times article on April 2, 1982. “Snowcats turned upside down, buildings blown apart. It was just a mess.”
Drake and Siig’s film dives into the story and lives of those who lived through the event, survived the avalanche, and worked to rescue survivors.
“There was this story that existed. There were those that lived it that were open to sharing their experiences and we wanted to siphon from them as much as we could for ourselves to grow,” said Drake during February’s Good Morning Truckee forum.
Since its release last fall, the documentary has garnered numerous awards at film festivals across North America.
The film was screened on Thursday at Alpine Meadows, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the avalanche. It will also be shown through Thursday at Tahoe Arthaus & Cinema in Tahoe City. Screenings will run at 5 and 7 p.m. each day. Tickets can be purchased at tahoearthauscinema.com.
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Buried: The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche” will be shown through Thursday at Tahoe Arthaus & Cinema in Tahoe City. Screenings will run at 5 and 7 p.m. each day. Tickets can be purchased at tahoearthauscinema.com
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User