Avalanche kills woman near Sugar Bowl
Officials have released the name of the cross-country skier who was killed after she became trapped by a backcountry avalanche in the Sierra Nevada on Sunday morning.
Gerilyn Ewing, 45, from Reno was skiing with a party of 11 people, some from the Truckee area, when she got caught in an avalanche in the steep, rugged terrain between the Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley ski resorts, Placer County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Wells said.
Two other members of the party were trapped by the avalanche, but they escaped serious injury after emerging from the snow relatively quickly, Wells said.
One of the trapped skiers was near the surface and able to dig himself out, while the other was dug out by others. Avalanche beacons proved useful in locating the trapped skiers, Wells said.
The two trapped skiers who survived returned to Sugar Bowl by Sunday evening.
“I heard one of them may have an injured knee. I’m unsure of the medical status at this point,” Wells said.
The party spent the night at Benson Hut Saturday night.
Sunday morning, the entire group went skiing. As some of the skiers returned to Benson Hut, they received a radio call from others in the group, reporting the avalanche and that some of their party had been buried.
The party was on U.S. Forest Service land when the avalanche was reported at about 11 a.m.
Ski resorts in the area reported as much as 20 inches of snow from a weekend storm.
A continuing avalanche threat hampered efforts of rescuers in the area, authorities said.
Check with sierrasun.com throughout the day for updates on this story.
FATAL TOLL OF SIERRA AVALANCHES
In the past nine years, more than 230 people ” an average of about 32 a year ” have been killed by avalanches in several western states, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. In all but one year of that period, California snowslides killed at least one person, mostly in the Tahoe area. Following are some of the recent avalanche fatalities in California and
Feb. 20, 2005
Authorities have not released the name of a woman killed by an avalanche while crosscountry skiing in the backcountry between Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley.
Jan. 1, 2004
Joseph Gashler, a 37-year-old cross-country skier, was killed when he and a friend were caught in an avalanche in the Castle Peak area just north of Donner Summit.
April 26, 2003
A snowmobiler was killed by an avalanche in Charity Valley near Carson Pass in Alpine County, south of South Lake Tahoe.
Dec. 15, 2002
A 25-year-old snowboarder, riding out of bounds east of the Mount Rose Ski Resort was killed by an avalanche.
March 8, 2002
One man died in the backcountry outside Sugar Bowl when he and two others triggered an avalanche by standing on an overhanging cornice. None of the men was wearing an avalanche beacon.
Feb. 21, 2001
Two teenagers were killed by an avalanche as they skied out of bounds between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
Feb. 06, 1999
A 21-year-old man was killed when he and three friends were caught in an avalanche while playing in the snow near Donner Summit.
On the Web:
– To check out the central Sierra Avalanche Advisory go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/tahoe/documents/avalanche/current_advisory.htm
– For more information on the Sierra Avalanche Center call (530) 587-3558.
– http://www.avalanche.org – clearinghouse for avalanche information and statistics throughout the nation.
– Code-a-phone call-in line for central Sierra avalanche forecast: (530) 587-2158.
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