Recovery of body, avalanche shut down Squaw Valley operations on same day |

Recovery of body, avalanche shut down Squaw Valley operations on same day

Operations at Squaw Valley were shut down twice March 2 due to a pair of incidents, including the recovery of a missing California snowboarder’s body.

The snowboarder was identified as Wenyu Zhang, 42, of Rocklin, who was a guest at the ski resort. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows personnel recovered the body about 10:10 a.m. in the Squaw Creek area of the ski resort.

“On behalf of everyone at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, we would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the guest’s family and friends. We hold them closely in our thoughts and prayers,” said Liesl Hepburn, public relations director for the ski resort.

The search for Zhang began on Thursday evening, March 1, after friends said he did not return from the mountain. A search area was narrowed through the use of a tracking program used by the ski resort.

All skiing and riding operations were put on hold during the search efforts. An investigation into the incident was expected to follow.


A little more than three hours after Zhang’s body was recovered, an inbounds avalanche occurred on the mountain and closed the venue down for the remainder of the day because of the hazard.

An unidentified person at Squaw Valley was seriously injured as a result of the incident. The person was caught up in the avalanche that happened about 1:40 p.m. in an area near the Olympic Lady chair lift.

“One guest suffered a serious lower body injury and was transported by North Tahoe Fire (Protection District) to Tahoe Forest Hospital,” the ski resort said in a statement.

“Another guest was rescued by Squaw Valley rescue teams, transported to the Tahoe Truckee Medical Group at the base of Squaw Valley, and then was subsequently released.”

Three other guests of the resort, who were also caught in the avalanche, were not injured and left the scene. As a result of the incident, the ski resort was closed for the remainder of the day due to an avalanche hazard.

The trigger of the avalanche was unknown, and the incident was to be investigated.

The incident drew a response from more than 100 ski patrollers, emergency responders, and multiple avalanche rescue dogs at the scene. That group included Squaw Valley Ski Patrol, Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol, Homewood Ski Patrol, as well as personnel from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, North Tahoe Fire Protection District, and Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue.

“The Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows team extends its immense appreciation for the professionalism of all of the staff and responding agencies involved in this incident,” the ski resort said.

Managing Editor Wyatt Haupt Jr. can be reached at 530-550-2652 or via email at

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