A snowmobiler died Saturday in the Lake Tahoe region after being on foot and swept over the edge of a cliff by an avalanche.
An adult male, he was part of a group of three who were touring the area on snowmobiles just west of the Tahoe-Donner Ski Resort, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. The area is known as Frog Lake Cliffs.
As of early Monday afternoon (March 22), the victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of family members, according to the sheriff’s office.
Officials at the site say visibility was poor and the edge of the ridge was difficult to see at approximately 1:45 p.m. After embarking his snowmobile, the man took several steps toward the edge, unknowingly stepping onto a shelf of ice hanging over Frog Lake Cliffs. A large 40-foot section of the cornice broke underneath, creating an avalanche, and sent the man over the slope’s edge and down roughly 900 feet below.
The breaking of the cornice initiated a 100-foot-wide avalanche that swept the man “down the slope. over cliffs and through rocks and chutes,” the Sierra Avalanche Center said in a statement.
The man was found on the surface and not buried with traumatic injuries. A person who witnessed the fall from below initiated CPR before rescue crews arrived, but the victim did not survive.
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, Cal Fire, Placer County Nordic Search and Rescue and the United States Navy all responded to the incident, according to the sheriff’s office.
The man’s body was airlifted from the scene by a Navy helicopter originating in Fallon, Nevada. The man was taken to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno.
“Our thoughts, condolences, and sympathy are with all those affected by this tragedy,” the Sierra Avalanche Center wrote in a statement. “Our thanks also go out to those who helped with the recovery effort. This incident represents a sobering reminder of the risks that exist in the mountains.”
There have been 33 recorded avalanche-related deaths this season in the U.S. This was the first such fatality in California.