The light fluffy snow which has been blanketing the west has also increased the hazards presented by skiing in trees. The snow is easily fallen into, often resulting in suffocation.
On March 4th, a skier at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana became separated from his friends. Later that afternoon his body was found by ski patrol in a tree well.
In Oregon, Mt. Bachelor experienced a double-tragedy when the body of a male skier was found in a tree well early Friday afternoon, then two hours later a report of another missing skier prompted a search lasting into the night. The body of the missing female skier was found, also in a tree well.
And on the same day at California’s China Peak, a snowboarder fell in the new snow, measured at five feet, and suffocated.
Tree wells are notorious for posing an unobvious danger. Best practice is to always ski with a partner so that if a tree well is encountered, rescue can begin immediately.