OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — A 29-year-old man who died Thursday after being seriously injured in a backcountry avalanche near Lake Tahoe has been identified as Benjamin Brackett of Olympic Valley.
According to a detailed Sierra Avalanche Center report about the incident, Brackett and two others skinned up to Stanford Rocks, located near Ward Canyon off the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. Brackett then started to ski down a slope, triggering the avalanche.
Brackett came to rest about 500 vertical feet below Stanford Rock. The other two skiers were not caught in the slide.
A detailed report of the incident can be found here: www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/incidents.
The skiers accessed the area from Highway 89, Placer County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Dena Erwin said Thursday. After the two skiers reached Brackett, one skied out of the area to request aid. The second skier stayed with Brackett until rescuers arrived.
Brackett was transported by ground ambulance at about 5:45 p.m. Thursday to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee in critical condition; he died Thursday evening of unspecified trauma.
Rescue crews began the search at around 3 p.m., reaching Brackett by about 4:20 p.m. The search was a combined effort of Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, Placer County Sheriff's Office and the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.
The incident occurred at the tail end of a strong winter storm system that dumped more than four feet of snow at higher elevations around Lake Tahoe.
Wind gusts were very high during the storm; Sierra Avalanche Center had listed avalanche danger as “High” Thursday morning, before being downgraded in the afternoon to “Considerable.”