Ski Patroller Killed at Squaw Valley

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Editors update, Jan. 24, 2016; 4:03 p.m.; Tuesday’s press conference revealed that there were two two-person teams doing avalanche control on the Gold Coast Ridge route this morning — no one else was injured.

The explosion that killed Joe Zuiches was caused by a hand charge used at ski resorts all across the US, made up of ammonium nitrate (94 percent) and diesel fuel (6 percent) — it is highly regulated by state authorities. The FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Placer County’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal team are on site at the incident.

Zuiches’ body has been located but not yet recovered. All ordinances are accounted for except for those in his pack.

“Joe [Zuiches] was considered one of the best of the best who ran avi control, he was highly trained in this field,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, at the press conference. Zuiches lived in Olympic Valley with his wife and baby.

Update, Jan. 24, 2016; 2:40 p.m.; The cause is believed to be the detonation of an explosive charge. An investigation is ongoing in cooperation with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and North Tahoe Fire Department.

Update, Jan. 24, 2016; 12:23 p.m.; Joe Zuiches, a 42-year-old resident of Olympic Valley and a member of the Squaw Valley professional ski patrol since 2012, was killed in a fatal incident at 8:35 a.m. this morning during avalanche control activities. The incident, which occurred at the top of Gold Coast Ridge at Squaw Valley, does not appear to be avalanche related.

North Tahoe Fire Department and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office are on , and an investigation is underway. Updates will be posted here as they become available. The team at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is deeply saddened by this tragic event, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends affected. 

A press conference has been scheduled for 2:00 p.m. today at the Alpenglow Conference Room in The Village at Squaw Valley.

Editors update, Jan. 24, 2016; 12:17 p.m.; A GoFundMe page has been created to pay the patroller's funeral costs, a number estimated to be $7,000. At the time of this update, the page had raised $1,600.60 from 33 donors in one hour.

PRESS RELEASE

A fatal incident occurred at Squaw Valley involving a ski patroller at 8:35 a.m. this morning during avalanche control activities. He was an employee of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. The victim’s name has not yet been released pending the notification of friends and family. An investigation is underway, and additional updates will be provided as they become available.

The team at Squaw/Alpine is deeply saddened by this tragic event and would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends affected.

Squaw Valley will be closed for the day. Alpine Meadows will be open today.

Ski Patroller Killed at Squaw Valley

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Editors update, Jan. 24, 2016; 4:03 p.m.; Tuesday’s press conference revealed that there were two two-person teams doing avalanche control on the Gold Coast Ridge route this morning — no one else was injured.

The explosion that killed Joe Zuiches was caused by a hand charge used at ski resorts all across the US, made up of ammonium nitrate (94 percent) and diesel fuel (6 percent) — it is highly regulated by state authorities. The FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Placer County’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal team are on site at the incident.

Zuiches’ body has been located but not yet recovered. All ordinances are accounted for except for those in his pack.

“Joe [Zuiches] was considered one of the best of the best who ran avi control, he was highly trained in this field,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, at the press conference. Zuiches lived in Olympic Valley with his wife and baby.

Update, Jan. 24, 2016; 2:40 p.m.; The cause is believed to be the detonation of an explosive charge. An investigation is ongoing in cooperation with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and North Tahoe Fire Department.

Update, Jan. 24, 2016; 12:23 p.m.; Joe Zuiches, a 42-year-old resident of Olympic Valley and a member of the Squaw Valley professional ski patrol since 2012, was killed in a fatal incident at 8:35 a.m. this morning during avalanche control activities. The incident, which occurred at the top of Gold Coast Ridge at Squaw Valley, does not appear to be avalanche related.

North Tahoe Fire Department and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office are on , and an investigation is underway. Updates will be posted here as they become available. The team at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is deeply saddened by this tragic event, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends affected. 

A press conference has been scheduled for 2:00 p.m. today at the Alpenglow Conference Room in The Village at Squaw Valley.

Editors update, Jan. 24, 2016; 12:17 p.m.; A GoFundMe page has been created to pay the patroller's funeral costs, a number estimated to be $7,000. At the time of this update, the page had raised $1,600.60 from 33 donors in one hour.

PRESS RELEASE

A fatal incident occurred at Squaw Valley involving a ski patroller at 8:35 a.m. this morning during avalanche control activities. He was an employee of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. The victim’s name has not yet been released pending the notification of friends and family. An investigation is underway, and additional updates will be provided as they become available.

The team at Squaw/Alpine is deeply saddened by this tragic event and would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends affected.

Squaw Valley will be closed for the day. Alpine Meadows will be open today.

Ski Patroller Killed at Squaw Valley

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Editors update, Jan. 24, 2016; 4:03 p.m.; Tuesday’s press conference revealed that there were two two-person teams doing avalanche control on the Gold Coast Ridge route this morning — no one else was injured.

The explosion that killed Joe Zuiches was caused by a hand charge used at ski resorts all across the US, made up of ammonium nitrate (94 percent) and diesel fuel (6 percent) — it is highly regulated by state authorities. The FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Placer County’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal team are on site at the incident.

Zuiches’ body has been located but not yet recovered. All ordinances are accounted for except for those in his pack.

“Joe [Zuiches] was considered one of the best of the best who ran avi control, he was highly trained in this field,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, at the press conference. Zuiches lived in Olympic Valley with his wife and baby.

Update, Jan. 24, 2016; 2:40 p.m.; The cause is believed to be the detonation of an explosive charge. An investigation is ongoing in cooperation with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and North Tahoe Fire Department.

Update, Jan. 24, 2016; 12:23 p.m.; Joe Zuiches, a 42-year-old resident of Olympic Valley and a member of the Squaw Valley professional ski patrol since 2012, was killed in a fatal incident at 8:35 a.m. this morning during avalanche control activities. The incident, which occurred at the top of Gold Coast Ridge at Squaw Valley, does not appear to be avalanche related.

North Tahoe Fire Department and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office are on , and an investigation is underway. Updates will be posted here as they become available. The team at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is deeply saddened by this tragic event, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends affected. 

A press conference has been scheduled for 2:00 p.m. today at the Alpenglow Conference Room in The Village at Squaw Valley.

Editors update, Jan. 24, 2016; 12:17 p.m.; A GoFundMe page has been created to pay the patroller's funeral costs, a number estimated to be $7,000. At the time of this update, the page had raised $1,600.60 from 33 donors in one hour.

PRESS RELEASE

A fatal incident occurred at Squaw Valley involving a ski patroller at 8:35 a.m. this morning during avalanche control activities. He was an employee of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. The victim’s name has not yet been released pending the notification of friends and family. An investigation is underway, and additional updates will be provided as they become available.

The team at Squaw/Alpine is deeply saddened by this tragic event and would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends affected.

Squaw Valley will be closed for the day. Alpine Meadows will be open today.

Brockway Campground to be Preserved as U.S. Forest Service Land

Thursday, September 8, 2016
By: 
Mayumi Elegado, Moonshine Ink Staff

Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) and Mountainside Partners announced yesterday that landowner SPI would be selling a 120-acre parcel that was slated to be the site of Brockway Campground, a Mountainside Partners project. If the sale is completed, the land will become part of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

“We are moving forward with this sale to ensure land SPI owns within the Tahoe Basin remains accessible to the public forever,” said Blake Riva, managing partner of Mountainside Partners in a news release. “Although an improved campground is permissible under current zoning and would provide significant recreational benefits, we have listened carefully to the community and have decided that the parcel should be permanently protected through a sale to the Forest Service.”

The 120 acres sits on a ridge above Martis Valley and at one point was tied into the proposed Martis Valley West development with 112 residential units planned for the land, which sits inside the Basin. In January of last year, Mountainside Partners withdrew the parcel from the project.

In yesterday’s announcement, SPI and Mountainside said that California Tahoe Conservancy facilitated the discussion and that SPI and the U.S. Forest Service have exchanged willing-buyer and willing-seller letters to complete the sale by the end of 2017.

“This acquisition shows how the partnership between the California Tahoe Conservancy and the US Forest Service, along with Sierra Pacific Industries, can result in significant benefit to the public we serve,” said Jeff Marsolais, Forest Supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in a press release. “The parcel is one of the last remaining undeveloped large parcels of private lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin and will result in a contiguous block of National Forest System Lands.”

The land is being purchased under the Santini-Burton Act of 1980, in which Congress authorized the Forest Service to acquire environmentally sensitive lands in the Basin. To date, over 3,500 parcels (or Urban Lots) totaling 13,000 acres valued at $105 million have been acquired under the Act. Allowed uses on Santini-Burton purchases are restricted to dispersed recreation and limited erosion control projects, said Robert Rodman Jr, USFS Lands Program Manager. Dispersed recreation is activities that take place outside of developed camping or concessionaire-operated facilities, excluding motorized recreation. No resorts, campgrounds, or developed recreation will be allowed on this land should it be purchased, Rodman said.

The Brockway Campground application will remain active at Placer County while the USFS conducts an appraisal and other pre-acquisition activities. Upon completion of the appraisal, SPI will enter into a purchase option with the USFS. Mountainside Partners and SPI will withdraw their campground development application once the land is sold, according to the news release.

The announcement to keep this land permanently protected comes less than a week before Martis Valley West goes before the Placer County Board of Supervisors. Some are asking Mountainside Partners to keep the MVW potential impacts in mind.

"The developers must still do more to address threats to Lake Tahoe from the Martis Valley West project’s estimated negative impacts from traffic and related pollution,” said Darcie Goodman Collins, executive director for the League to Save Lake Tahoe. 

~ The Placer County Board of Supervisors hearing for Martis Valley West will be held Sept. 13 at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach, starting at 9:45 a.m.