Idaho resort looks for skier after avalanche; 2 others die

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FILE – In this Feb. 25, 2013 file photo, a skier takes advantage of the snowy conditions at Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho. The Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, it received reports of up to three separate avalanches on the mountain and that emergency responders were coordinating rescue efforts. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review via AP)

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KELLOGG, Idaho (AP) — Officials were searching Wednesday for a missing skier at an Idaho resort where a series of avalanches killed two skiers and injured five others the day before.

The Silver Mountain Resort was closed Wednesday “to focus all available resources on the search,” the resort said on Facebook.

The resort said it received a telephone call Wednesday morning from a concerned family member of the missing skier.

“This person has been confirmed to be skiing yesterday at Silver during the time of the avalanche,” the resort posted on Facebook. “An intense search is currently underway with Silver Mountain Ski Patrol as well as multiple teams and dog units from various agencies.”

The resort said what appeared to be a series of three avalanches occurred about 11 a.m. Tuesday on Wardner Peak, an area of the resort where the ski runs are rated at the highest difficulty level.

The runs had just been opened for a short period after crews performed avalanche control blasting in the area Tuesday morning, using explosives to trigger avalanches in hopes of leaving only the stable snow layers on the runs, officials said.

Rescue crews and volunteers searched the avalanche area Tuesday with dogs and probes. Five people with minor injuries were found during the day, a sixth skier was discovered under about 10 feet (3 meters) of snow and did not survive. The final skier was found after dark. He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.

Names of the victims have not been released.

Silver Mountain Resort is located about 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Spokane, Washington, along Interstate 90 in the Idaho Panhandle.

Skiers flocked to the area on Tuesday morning after reports of 13 inches (33 centimeters) inches of new snow. The snow was heavy and wet, causing some skiers to worry about avalanche conditions, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.

“I thought conditions were kind of sketchy,” Bruce Rosenoff, 72, told the newspaper. He remembered an avalanche on the same peak in 1980.

Wardner Peak had been open less than an hour when officials described a series of avalanches.

Experts say most avalanche survivors are dug out within 30 minutes.

Wardner Peak is an area that is not served by a chairlift, but is still patrolled and managed by the resort. Skiers ride a chair to its terminus and then traverse along a ridge to the peak, which offers expert runs.

During the 2018-19 winter, 25 people died in avalanches in the United States, the newspaper reported.

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