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“A Wall of White” recounts historic ski area avalanche

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on March 26, 2009 at 9:51 am with No Comments »
March 26, 2009 9:51 am

In 2005 I spent a day skiing at Alpine Meadows on Lake Tahoe. While the skiing was good – very good in fact – and the lift tickets were cheap (a great combo), I was most interested in the stories I heard from the locals.

Whether I was hanging out in the lodge with ski instructor Vinny Distefano or riding the chairlift with Jim Cochrane, a 70-year-old former Oregon State University football player, it seemed everybody wanted to share the same piece of history about the ski area.

On March 31, 1982, Alpine Meadows was the site of the deadliest avalanche any American ski resort has ever seen. Inbounds avalanches are very rare at ski areas, but this avalanche killed seven people and resulted in several stories of heroism.

Now, Jennifer Woodlief, a former Sports Illustrated reporter and CIA case officer, is recounting the combination events that lead to the avalanche as well as the stories of those who died and survived.

Her book, "A Wall of White," went on sale Feb. 17. It is $25 and is published Atria Books.

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