SF man killed in ski avalanche
A treacherous mix of new and old snow in a restricted area at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort caused an avalanche that killed a 30-year-old male skier Friday.
Jonathan Clodfelter of San Francisco was declared dead at 2:45 p.m. after he was shoveled out of 3 feet of snow and airlifted to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
He was first identified as a snowboarder, but resort marketing director Greg Murtha said he confirmed through the victim’s two friends, who were on snowboards, that the victim was on skis.
The three hiked to the tip of a snow peak on the eastern side of Mount Judah at an elevation of about 8,300 feet.
“It gave way, and (both) snowboarders were able to not get caught in the snow, and the decedent wound up getting buried in three feet of snow,” sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Whigam said.
One of the survivors called 911 at 1:15 p.m. from a cell phone, and the ski patrol arrived within 25 minutes and dug out the victim.
According to reports published Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle, Clodfelter was an investment banker and financial analyst who moved to San Francisco from Boston three years ago.
The group said they knew they were out of bounds and saw the posted warning signs, according to Murtha.
“I point-blank asked them about that,” he said.
Thirty inches of snow fell in the area Thursday, and sat tenuously on an icy layer of older snow, according to Whigam.
“There were avalanche warnings on the radio this morning,” he said.
The U.S. Forest Service had issued several avalanche advisories following last week’s storms for the backcountry along the east side of the Sierra Nevada from Yuba Pass to Sonora Pass. On Friday, a U.S. Forest Service bulletin called the avalanche danger “considerable” above 7,000 feet.
Clodfelter was the first avalanche fatality of the season in the North Tahoe area.
In February 2001, two Truckee-area teens were killed in an avalanche while skiing out-of-bounds in the back country.
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