Ice climber killed in fall |

Ice climber killed in fall

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A 23-year-old El Cerrito man died after falling about 125 feet while ice climbing at Cascade Falls on Saturday.

About 3 p.m., Michael Machell was preparing to ascend an area near the falls with a group of friends when he slipped and fell. The area where Machell fell was “very, very steep sheet ice” and there was nothing to stop his descent, Lovell said.

An autopsy has not yet been completed, but the cause of death is expected to be blunt force trauma, Lovell said.

Because of the challenging terrain in the area of the fall, search and rescue personnel were unable to retrieve Machell’s body until about 10 p.m., Lovell said.

Everyone in Machell’s group are believed to be experienced climbers and it isn’t clear why he wasn’t roped in at the time of the fall, Lovell said.

Machell is a native of Great Britain and was in the U.S. attending school, Lovell said.

He encouraged backcountry travelers to be especially careful following this week’s storms. Snow could conceal treacherous patches of ice. Avalanches are also a possibility depending on how much snow the area receives, Lovell said.

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