It's been so long since people have seen serious amounts of snow in the Tahoe area they've forgotten that it can be dangerous, apparently. 29-year-old snowboarder Christian Michael Mares rode into an off-limits area of the Sugar Bowl ski resort last week, dropped down a cliff and promptly started an avalanche, all of which Mares captured on his helmet-mounted GoPro camera, and uploaded to YouTube (see above). Now the resort is pursuing criminal charges after the video's gained national attention.
Mares says he and his buddies were unaware that the Perco's area of the East Palisades section of the resort, which hasn't been open since 2011, was closed off, as the Chronicle reports. "We were just having fun,” says Mares. “We didn’t know that area was supposedly closed off."
But it's likely they knew what they were doing, just not that it was so dangerous. According to research cited by the Sacramento Bee, skiers and snowboarders are increasingly seeking bigger thrills on back-country trails, with such prohibited activity up 70 percent.
As NBC News reported this week, Sugar Bowl considers this a "very active avalanche area" and they're saying "Mares put himself, his friends, ski patrol and the skiing public at risk."
Just one day before Mares' avalanche, 23-year-old Sugar Bowl ski instructor Carson May went out skiing by himself in similar terrain in the resort's back country, and hasn't been heard from since. The search for May was suspended two days ago, and officials say they have not located any clues as to his whereabouts.
Mares and his friends turn out to have been very lucky, and Mares says he had to "swim" upward during the snow slide in order to avoid getting buried. He can be seen in the video emerging with a beard full of snow and just a sprained ankle saying, "Well that just happened."