ETNA, Calif. (AP) — An avalanche in California’s northern backcountry killed a skier near a remote peak, authorities said.
Brook Golling, 35, of Ashland, Oregon, was with a snowboarding friend when they were caught in an avalanche as they were getting ready to start their run near Etna Summit in Siskiyou County on Wednesday, according to the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center.
Golling, was “quickly pinned and buried against a tree,” while Ben Koerber, 37, of Ashland was swept through trees and partially buried, the center reported.
Koerber managed to dig himself out, climbed back up the slope and dug through about 6 feet (1.83 meters) of snow to reach Golling but was unable to revive his friend despite more than an hour of lifesaving efforts, authorities said.
Koerber hiked out to their car and drove until he was able to get a cellphone signal to call 911. According to authorities, it was already dark when Siskiyou County officials received the call, and a search and rescue team had to wait until Thursday to retrieve Golling’s body.
The avalanche center report said both men “had many years of backcountry experience” and were carrying important gear including shovels, probes and avalanche beacons, which are radio-signal devices worn on the body that are intended to help pinpoint buried victims.
Both men had tested their beacons in the parking lot before setting out. After the avalanche, Koerber tried to activate his beacon to find Golling. But it malfunctioned, and he instead went up the slope to dig in “the most likely burial location,” according to the avalanche center.
Koerber later discovered that the beacon had a corroded battery compartment, the report said.
The avalanche was estimated to be about 70 feet (21.34 meters) wide and 200 feet (60.96 meters) long, the report said.
A memorial page has been set up for Golling to raise money for his funeral expenses and to support his family.
In Colorado this week, four backcountry skiers were killed in avalanches in 4 days.
The bodies of three backcountry skiers buried in a large avalanche in southwestern Colorado were found Wednesday with the help of their avalanche beacons under more than 20 feet (6.10 meters) of debris. A slide near Vail Mountain Resort on Thursday killed another skier, officials said.
A total of eight backcountry skiers have died in avalanches in Colorado so far this winter.