According to a nationwide database maintained by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, this is the nation’s first recorded avalanche death for the 2023–2024 winter season. In the winter of 2022–2023, avalanches claimed the lives of thirty persons, compared to just seventeen in the season before.
The well-liked K-22 chairlift at the resort opened for business on that first day of the ski season. Claimed to be the “greatest expert lift in North America,” it is well-known for servicing difficult terrain that experienced skiers and snowboarders frequently visit.
Authorities indicate that investigations into what caused the tragic avalanche are still ongoing. Here is what we currently know:
Three injured, one killed
The Palisades Tahoe ski resort said in a statement that over 100 resort personnel, supported by members of the public, performed a search of the region. They discovered a male skier who had been declared dead by a nearby hospital after having “sustained fatal injuries.”
The victim was identified by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office as Kenneth Kidd, a 66-year-old resident of Point Reyes and the Truckee region, in a post on X.
According to the ski resort, three more skiers were treated for “non-life threatening injuries” and released. One of them had a lower leg injury, according to the authorities, while the other two had injuries that were not immediately apparent.
According to a Palisades Tahoe statement, “the entire Palisades Tahoe team, including all of the first responders, extend their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those involved in the incident.”
At a news briefing on Wednesday, authorities stated that no additional missing persons had been reported.
The avalanche’s cause is still unknown.
Investigations into what caused Wednesday’s avalanche are still ongoing, according to Palisades Tahoe and officials.
The area had seen days of intense snowfall before to the storm on Wednesday; this is predicted to continue until Thursday morning.
At the press conference, Michael Gross, vice president of mountain operations at Palisades Tahoe, stated that the ski resort’s patrol staff had been doing avalanche assessments since Sunday. In order to be ready for today’s opening, he explained, “so for the past few days they’ve been up there doing control work, evaluating weather conditions, setting up all safety markings, hazard markings, et cetera.”
Gross went on to say that after the crew assessed the situation and decided it was safe, it was typical to open in the midst of a lot of snow.
According to the sheriff’s office, the avalanche on Wednesday left behind debris that measured around 150 feet (45.7 meters) broad, 450 feet long, and 10 feet deep.
The past of Palisades Tahoe
According to its website, this 1949-opened ski resort in Olympic Valley, California, has 6,000 skiable acres spread across two mountains, with beginner-friendly slopes as well as expert courses, making it the largest of its kind in the Lake Tahoe region.
Palisades Tahoe has been a well-liked venue for international ski competitions, including as the current FIS Ski World Cup, ever since it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.
Though its skiing amenities are its main draw, Palisades Tahoe’s summer hiking and cycling routes also draw tourists.
Avalanches, however, have always been a menace to the region. An avalanche struck an apartment complex next to Palisades Tahoe last year, forcing the residents of the adjacent structures to flee.
2020 saw another avalanche at the Palisades Tahoe-area Alpine Meadows ski resort, which claimed the life of a 34-year-old skier and gravely injured another. The late skier’s wife and close friend accused Palisades Tahoe of negligence in a lawsuit that was resolved in 2022, claiming that the resort had hurried to open the slopes despite dangerous circumstances.
According to resort representatives, Kidd was a visitor when the avalanche on Wednesday occurred. “This is a very sad day for my team and everyone here,” Dee Byrne, president of Palisades Tahoe, said at the news event on Wednesday.