Man who died after avalanche at Mt. Charleston was skiing with friends when incident happened, officials say

The Clark County Coroner’s office has identified a 32-year-old man who was killed in an avalanche Monday at Mt. Charleston.
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 11:32 AM PST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2023 at 3:11 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Clark County Coroner’s office has identified a 32-year-old man who was killed in an avalanche Monday at Mt. Charleston.

According to the coroner’s office, the individual was identified as Punan Zhou, 32, of Las Vegas. He died from blunt force trauma and his death was ruled an accident.

In a press conference held Tuesday, members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Spring Mountain National Recreation Area provided more details on the incident.

Sgt. Matt Marlow with LVMPD said five skiers, including Zhou, were on the Mummy Springs Trail when the avalanche occurred.

Marlow said one member in the group went down a slope which triggered the avalanche. Zhou was carried 500 feet down the mountain, Marlow said.

The victim’s friends were able to find him through a personal locator device. They performed CPR on him for 30 minutes but Zhou succumbed to his injuries, Marlow said.

The friends contacted authorities who helped bring Zhou down the mountain. Marlow said the entire operation took about three hours.

“This tragic accident is a reminder of the dangerous conditions that can occur in the backcountry of Mt. Charleston. If you plan on coming up to the mountain, please be prepared,” he said.

Avalanche terrain is found all across the Spring Mountains, but avalanche mitigation is not performed there, said Jonathan Stein, the recreation manager for Spring Mountains.

“This year we’ve had a lot of snow and more recently wet snow. Avalanche conditions can persist for a while,” Stein added. An accident investigation will be done, as is the protocol for each fatality.

When asked why avalanche mitigation isn’t performed at Spring Mountains, Stein said, “We do not do avalanche mitigation on basic national forest lands - which is where this incident occurred.”

“Unfortunately, across the west, there is a lot of avalanche terrain and there’s only so much monitoring that can take place,” Stein said.

18 years ago to the day Monday, an avalanche on Mt. Charleston killed a teenage boy who was snowboarding. The 13-year-old was swept off a ski lift by a wave of snow.

Lee Canyon remained closed on Tuesday as the area conducted “snow safety and avalanche mitigation work.”