Skier Dies in Tree Well at Whitefish Mountain Resort

By Beacon Staff

A male skier died in a tree well Saturday at Whitefish Mountain Resort, according to authorities.

The 54-year-old man was found upside down in the base of a tree and an autopsy is being conducted Monday at the State Crime Lab in Missoula to determine the cause of death, according to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. The victim has not been identified and no further details were released while multiple investigations have been launched into the latest tragedy involving tree wells on Big Mountain.

The man was visiting from California and skiing with his son on the north side of the mountain in a section of trees near the ski runs named Gray Wolf and Bighorn, according to a resort official.

The son arrived at the bottom of the ski run and returned to the top of the run and retraced their route after his father did not show up. The man’s son discovered his father’s skis protruding from the tree well, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office and U.S. Forest Service are conducting an investigation, and Whitefish Mountain Resort is conducting its own investigation as well.

“It’s still early but any death at our resort is a tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends affected by this,” Whitefish Mountain Resort Spokesperson Riley Polumbus told the Beacon.

The death Saturday occurred almost exactly three years after two other separate tragedies involving tree wells on Big Mountain. The family of Niclas Waschle, who died in a tree well while skiing, filed a complaint last month in U.S. District Court against Whitefish Mountain Resort over the death.

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