Detailed Accident Report

Back to accidents page

Date: 2009-02-21
Submitted By: SAC
Place: near Maggies Peak, Lake Tahoe Region
State: CA
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 skier caught and killed

Sierra Avalanche Center Links


Snowpit Data:


Please visit:

Body of missing skier found in Sierra avalanche

By Niesha Lofing

Published: Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 - 10:48 am

Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 - 4:11 pm

Authorities have found the body of a South Lake Tahoe skier who had been missing since Saturday, the victim of an avalanche.

El Dorado County Sheriff's Search and Rescue teams found Christopher Trethaway, 39, in a fresh avalanche west of Cascade Lake in an area near Maggie's Peak, said sheriff's Lt. Les Lovell.

There was no one else with him.

Search and rescue personnel initially found a ski pole and hat about 9:30 a.m. today near a fresh slide and concentrated their efforts in that area, he said.

Trethaway's body was found at 10:56 a.m.

Authorities estimate Trethaway died Saturday afternoon.

"Due to conditions, it's difficult to give an exact time," Lovell said.

Trethaway had been reporting missing by a friend about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Searchers found his car parked at the Bayview Trailhead near Emerald Bay, with only one set of shoes inside the vehicle. He was backcountry skiing, but did not stray into off-limits territory.

Despite limited light and stormy conditions, rescue personnel searched the immediate area but did not locate Trethaway or information about his whereabouts.

Lovell said the area is very prone to avalanches and the search and rescue teams had found evidence of several recent avalanches.

"There's a very icy snow pack and a lot of wet, heavy snow on top of it, so it tends to slide," he said.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the time and cause of Trethaway's death.

People killed in avalanches often either suffocate or suffer traumatic injuries due to the falling snow, Lovell said.

Sheriff's officials are asking people using the backcountry to tell others where they intend to go, how long they plan to stay and how many people are in their party.

Officials also are thankful of help they received from allied agencies and volunteers during the search.