TRUCKEE (CBS SF/AP) — Two skiers wearing locator beacons and survival gear were rescued Thursday after being swept up in a back-country avalanche near the Mount Rose ski area in Lake Tahoe, authorities said.
The Truckee Meadows Fire Department said the skiers were in good condition when they were pulled from the snow.
The Sierra Avalanche Center had lower the avalanche risk level from high to considerable for the region early Thursday, but warned the back-country areas were still very unstable.
Fortunately, search crews were already nearby making sure there was no one buried in another avalanche that closed the state highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe in the area where as much as 6 feet of snow has fallen over the past four days.
Several cars were buried by the avalanche just after noon Thursday west of the summit of Mount Rose near the Mount Rose ski area about 30 miles southwest of Reno, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Gordon said.
“We’ve got troopers on the scene now. There’s several feet of snow across the roadway,” Gordon said Thursday afternoon.
Blizzard conditions forced the closure of the highway — State Route 431 — most of Wednesday. A small avalanche briefly trapped three vehicles on an access road at the ski resort then, but no one was hurt.
At least 2 feet of snow has fallen in the past two days at ski resorts in the Tahoe area. A total of 70 inches has been recorded atop the Mount Rose resort since Sunday, the National Weather Service said.
Avalanches in the Mount Rose area have already proven to be deadly this ski season.
In December, 64-year-old Thomas Barker of Aptos died when he was trapped in an avalanche in an area of the resort that was closed to the public at the time.
Mike Pierce, the resort’s marketing director, says the steep terrain in that area known as the “Chutes” is open for skiing during certain conditions. But he says the gates at the time of Barker’s death were closed with signs that clearly showed it was off limits.
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