Kananaskis Public Safety rescues two mountain climbers off a peak near Mount Charles Stewart in Canmore on Tuesday (Feb. 14). One climber fell more than 100 metres during dangerous snow conditions on the peak. Aryn Toombs RMO Photo
An avalanche struck two scramblers mountaineering in “dangerous” conditions near Canmore, Tuesday (Feb. 14), with one suffering serious injuries after sliding 100 metres down the rocky mountainside. Kananaskis Country Public Safety conducted a high-avalanche-risk rescue on two men around 1 p.m. in the area of the summit of Mount Charles Stewart, a peak above Harvie Heights. The other man suffered a minor leg injury and was mobile after the incident. “They were relatively well equipped for what they were up to,” said Jeremy Mackenzie, public safety specialist. “But it sounded like one of them took a slide and was able to self rescue. The other one also took a slide and started to self rescue with an ice axe, but then he lost control of it and continued sliding without the ice axe, hit a rock and then tumbled onto the slope.” KCPS, with the assistance of an Alpine Helicopters pilot, performed the high-risk operation, or a scope and run, to get them off the mountain as quickly as possible. KCPS is unsure at this point whether the two scramblers caused the avalanche and added conditions on the mountain are “poor” due to the sun melting the shallow snow pack. “We didn’t feel comfortable even inserting the team without staying on the helicopter long line, that’s how dangerous we thought it was,” Mackenzie said. “With that shallow snow pack and facing into the sun, and it’s quite steep, those are sort of the three combos right now to avoid for solar triggered or daytime heating triggered avalanches; so pretty much a perfect combinations.” The Outlook will update when more information becomes available.