Cole Comstock, 34, of Blairsden, died in an avalanche at Alpine Meadows the morning of Jan. 17. His good friend, Kaley Bloom, was seriously injured and is being treated at Tahoe Forest Hospital. Both were Quincy High School graduates and avid skiers.
The friends were well known in Plumas County and news spread fast — not just locally, but nationally as well. This is the height of ski season, and though avalanches are relatively rare, they are a concern to skiers.
The day after her husband’s death Caitlin Comstock reflected on their last time together and the moment rescuers brought him down the mountain.
They had been riding the chairlift that morning when Cole pointed to an area that he planned to ski. It was an inbound area on the back side of the mountain, an area that Caitlin said had not been open before, but had been bombed that morning as a precaution against avalanches.
As they disembarked, they tapped the toes of their skis, said their “I love yous” and went off to ski.
“He loved skiing,” Caitlin said. “His goal was to ski 50 times this year.”
Sometime between 10 and 10:30 that morning, the avalanche occurred. “Our friends witnessed it and got over to the chairlift to notify the operators,” Caitlin said. She added that the ski patrol arrived almost immediately.
She waited at the bottom of the hill, and the ski patrol brought down the first stretcher. She didn’t know it was her husband. She said the individual was covered in snow and his face was covered in blood. She has been trained as an EMT and knew that the injuries were serious. It was only when she saw the boots, that she realized it was Cole. He had already died.
About 30-40 minutes later, Kaley was brought down. “He had hit a tree, just like Cole,” Caitlin said. “But the snow kept moving over the top of him and kept his face clear.” While Cole suffered head trauma (even though he was wearing a helmet), Kaley’s injuries were to his lower body. Friends of Kaley have reported that he has serious injuries to both of his legs.
Some friends remained with Kaley at the Truckee hospital, while others accompanied Caitlin back to her mother’s home in Clio. Caitlin is the daughter of Kathy and the late Bob Raymond. Cole’s mother is Rose Comstock. She is a former Plumas County Supervisor and resides in Graeagle.
Caitlin spent the first 24 hours after her husband’s death fielding calls from roughly a dozen news outlets and experiencing the shock of losing her husband of just over three years.
“He was such an amazing man,” she said.
In a statement that she released to media, Caitlin said, “Cole was the most kind-hearted and caring person to his friends and even strangers. He always went out of his way to make everyone feel loved and cared for and welcome and was always the first person to introduce himself to new people because he just wanted to be everyone’s friend.
“He was extremely hardworking and put everyone else’s needs first and never complained once about it. He loved skiing and loved living life. He deeply loved his friends, his family, and above all his wife.
“He supported everyone with all of his heart and was a true example of unconditional love. If there is one thing about Cole’s life to take away, remember to always be kind to one another and celebrate each others victories, not because you need something, but because it is the right thing to do.”
Caitlin said that details regarding services are still pending, but there will probably be a small gathering for immediate family and friends soon, but then a big party to celebrate his life later this year.
There was an impromptu celebration of his life the night he died, with friends gathering at their favorite hangout, the Knotty Pine Tavern in Graeagle. Caitlin stayed home, but she said it was apparently “wall to wall people” all sharing stories about Cole.
When asked if there was anything that she would like to say to her local community, Caitlin said, “Cole would want everyone to keep loving harder and make every minute count. Don’t hold grudges and fix any mangled relationships. That’s what he was trying to do this year.”
A GoFundMe site has been established for Caitlin as well as an account at Plumas Bank. Similarly, a GoFundMe site has been set up for Kaley Bloom.