Taos Ski Valley in northern New Mexico features some of the most radical terrain in the country. But unfortunately yesterday, that terrain proved fatal. A slide let loose in a couloir known as “K3” off of the newly-opened Kachina Peak, burying two people.
According to reports, both men were extracted by 1 p.m. when medics and rescue personnel began CPR and lifesaving operations. The first victim was taken to nearby Holy Cross Hospital and the second was flown by helicopter to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. Holy Cross Medical Center CEO Bill Patten confirmed that the man brought to Holy Cross had died Thursday night. Neither of the victims’ names were released.
We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s events. Our hearts are with the individuals, their family and friends, as well as the larger community that has been affected, including other visitors and our dedicated staff.
— Taos Ski Valley (@TaosSkiValley) January 18, 2019
“I see two people trying to come down and a third person on the left. They were really good skiers it looked like,” a witness who chose to remain anonymous told the Taos News. “I turned my back to put my bindings on … and then I heard a sound. It sounded like an earthquake coming.”
That witness added more detail, saying a cloud of snow billowed down the couloir and she couldn’t see how many had been buried. Another witness told the paper that the snow was so deep after the slide that avalanche probes couldn’t reach the bottom.
The resort said that ski patrol personnel had detonated explosives to reduce the risk that morning. Kachina Peak features an expanse of expert terrain.
Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.