Avalanche claimed a Kananaskis Backcountry Skier

Over the past weekend, numerous reports of avalanches surfaced, tragically including a Kananaskis backcountry skier and several near misses.

With sensitive storm slabs prevalent along the south coast and an ongoing issue of unpredictable persistent slabs capable of triggering significant avalanches across various regions, it remains imperative to select terrain that aligns with the specific avalanche risks at hand.

The avalanche that claimed the Kananaskis backcountry skier is reported on a MIN on Avalanche Canada’s website, here are the details.

Avalanche size/type: Size 3, persistent slab

Aspect: North to northeast

Elevation: 2400 m

Number caught: 2

Number deceased: 1

Description: Two skiers on a ridge crest near 2400m on The Tower in Spray Valley Provincial Park began skiing a N to NE aspect slope. Skier 1 entered the slope and descended approximately 80 to 100m. Skier 2 entered the slope and after 20 to 30m, triggered the avalanche. Skier 2 was pushed into a tree and was able to hold on, where they were overtaken by snow and briefly buried.

Skier 2 was able to self extricate and quickly began a transceiver search, locating Skier 1 who was buried approximately 1.9 m. Skier 1 was dug out unresponsive and not breathing; CPR efforts were unsuccessful. Skier 2 left the scene to raise the alarm, descending without ski equipment (which was lost in the avalanche) and driving to cellphone range. The call to 911 was made at approximately 1930 MT. Kananaskis Mountain Rescue responded at first light to the scene and recovered the deceased subject on March 11, 2024.

Skier 1 was wearing an avalanche balloon pack, but it was not deployed during the event. Skier 2 was wearing an Avalung but was not able to get it into their mouth during the event.

The size 3 avalanche was 450 m wide and ran for 550 m. The crown depth varied from 20 to 70 cm, averaging 50 cm.

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