California man killed in Alpine Meadows avalanche, another seriously injured (Video)

Justin Scacco
Special to The Union
An avalanche occurred in the advanced area above Alpine Meadows’ Subway lift on Friday. The incident caused a fatality and seriously injured another man.
Justin Scacco /

A powder day at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows turned tragic Friday morning when a pair of skiers were caught in an avalanche.

Cole Comstock, 34, of Blairsden, was killed in the incident, and another, unidentified man, was seriously injured. The injured skier reportedly suffered from lower body injuries and was taken to Tahoe Forest Hospital by ambulance for surgery, authorities said.

“Today at around 10:30 a.m. we received a report of an avalanche at Alpine Meadows ski resort,” Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Powers said Friday. “Ski patrol was first on scene and we have witnesses which identified an area up above the Subway run in a remote area of the resort. Witnesses identified two subjects skiing down the hillside when the avalanche occurred.”

The avalanche reportedly took place shortly after 10 a.m. in the Promised Land zone at Alpine Meadows, which is accessed via the Scott chairlift. The two men were said to be skiing inbounds in an advanced area of the resort when the avalanche was triggered. Ski patrol, Placer County Search and Rescue, volunteers, avalanche dogs, and avalanche probes were used in the search for the skiers.

The cause of the avalanche is currently unknown, according to Powers, and is still under investigation by Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and the Sheriff’s Office. Witnesses said only the two men were involved in the avalanche, and an extensive search of the area was called off at 11:45 a.m.

“If you’re going to ski in the backcountry make sure that you are familiar with avalanche conditions,” said Powers. “Make sure that you have avalanche beacons … be very cautious and have the proper equipment.”

Alpine Meadows was the site of a massive avalanche 38 years ago that killed seven and severely injured five. That event launched innovation in avalanche control and helped build a local team of career avalanche professionals, according to a previous article in the Tribune.

A storm on Thursday night and into Friday morning dumped a reported 25 inches of fresh snow at Alpine Meadows’ upper mountain area. The Sierra Avalanche Center forecasted considerable avalanche danger for all elevations in its daily report Friday morning.

“The entire Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows team, including all of the first responders, extend their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased,” the resort said in a statement. “We are working closely with the families of all the affected individuals to ensure their continued care.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.