Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Snow Exceeds Four Feet, Closes Bald Mountain
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Muffy Ritz snapped this picture of the lift line at Warm Springs as a crowd gathered to ski two feet of freshly fallen powder.
   
Saturday, January 30, 2021
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO BY MUFFY RITZ

Sun Valley skiers on Friday learned what skiers at Mount Baker and Tahoe and Utah resorts already know—there can be too much of a good thing.

Sun Valley closed the mountain citing the safety of its guests at 2 p.m. Friday after four-plus feet of fresh pow became increasingly heavy as temperatures warmed to 34 degrees at the bottom.

The resort got 65 inches--5.5 feet--of snow Wednesday through Friday. It received 25 inches in 24 hours at one point as non-stop snow continued for three days. Fourteen inches of wetter heavier snow hit on Friday.

The resort warned it may have a delayed opening today.

Sun Valley Ski Patrollers kept busy in the Frenchman’s area of the mountain Friday morning as skiers and boarders skiing the glades got stuck in the deep snow and, in some cases, immersed. Scads of school kids, who are not in school because of the pandemic, looked like kamikaze pilots on other runs, skiing straight down and bombing at the bottom.

Two skiers said they saw CPR being performed on one skier. A skier was found unresponsive in the Sunnyside area and transported to St. Luke's Wood River. Greg Plowman, 67, later died in the intensive care unit at St. Luke's Magic Valley of severe injuries.

As the snow mounted, an avalanche buried part of Warm Springs road with debris where the pavement ends at 4 p.m. Thursday. Forecasters with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center believe that elk may have triggered the avalanche given its proximity to the elk who winter there.

The snow also triggered multiple other avalanches, including at least two more in the Warm Springs area. One destructive avalanche was reported on Warm Springs Road near West Fork, leaving debris across the road. Another was reported on Eagle Wings Drive. It was triggered by skiers in out of bounds terrain and reportedly buried two vehicles.

Numerous small cracks could be seen on Bald Mountain in bounds Friday. Several small slides spilled across the cat track leading from Au Jus to the Frenchman's lift. And the Sun Valley Ski Patrol reported numerous natural and explosive-triggered avalanches in bounds, including one in its expansion area that ran 1,700 vertical feet--further than it's run in more than 30 years.

Further north, an avalanche was triggered--likely remotely--above Titus Lake near Galena Summit, said forecaster Ethan Davis. Davis added that the possibility of triggering slides even from flat terrain below steep slopes is a real possibility. A natural slab avalanche also partially blocked Highway 75 near Galena Summit

Forecasters say the five feet of snow that has fallen on some mountain tops has created very dangerous  avalanche danger in the mountains surrounding the Wood River Valley, Galena Summit, the Sawtooth Mountains, western Smoky Mountains and Soldier Mountains where snowmobilers triggered numerous small avalanches near Pine.

Friday's heavier wetter snow fell on a couple feet of light powder from the previous day. It fell on an extremely weak snow pack that hadn’t seen much in the way of snow for a few weeks. And strong winds from the south battered the top of Baldy and other mountain tops Thursday and Friday.

Conversely, those living south of Bellevue reported only 6 inches of snow on Thursday followed by rain overnight. And those living in Twin Falls said they got no precipitation—just lots of wind.

Even though the snow has stopped, an avalanche warning remains in effect until  6 a.m. Sunday.

Check www.sawtoothavalanche.com for the latest updates.

 

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