LAKE LOUISE – A 32-year-old man is dead after being swept from the north face of Mount Temple on a backcountry skiing trip in Lake Louise in Banff National Park Friday afternoon (Jan. 26).
According to RCMP, the man was from Melfort, Sask. and in a group of three.
“A single member of a party of three on the Aemmer Couloir of Mount Temple was hit by a sluff from the rock face above the couloir and knocked off his feet while cramponing,” states an Avalanche Canada Mountain Information Network (MIN) report. “The resulting fall was significant.
“The other members of the party descended safely to find their friend deceased from injuries sustained in the fall.”
RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Curtis Peters said the other two people in the group realized the third member was not with them when they reached the top of the run to ski down.
The person was not buried by the sluff avalanche, according to the MIN report, which is defined as a small, loose snow avalanche that is often human-triggered.
Parks Canada was notified of the incident by a cell phone call from the party around 4 p.m. and Parks Canada visitor safety and Lake Louise RCMP responded.
“The two surviving party members were evacuated by helicopter and the deceased was retrieved by sling rescue in the last few minutes of the light,” stated the MIN report prepared by Parks Canada visitor safety.
STARS was also dispatched from Calgary but stood down at the scene.
STAR-1 (Calgary) has been dispatched for a scene call emergency in the Lake Louise, AB area— STARS (@STARSambulance) January 26, 2024
The Outlook reached out to Parks Canada for more information and this story will be updated when a response is received.
The Avalanche Canada forecast was rated considerable at alpine and treeline on Friday in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.
A forecast prepared Friday noted recent weather conditions have created slabs at all elevation bands.
“These slabs are likely to be found sitting on weak layers,” the forecast stated. “As freezing levels rise over the next few days, expect these slabs to become more sensitive to human triggering and to an increase in natural activity.”
As of Friday, the rating was forecasted the same for Saturday and Sunday, with conditions on Monday (Jan. 29) rated high at treeline and below treeline, and rated considerable at alpine.
The avalanche forecast in Kananaskis Country was rated considerable at alpine, with higher danger ratings expected at lower elevations Monday (Jan. 29).
“A reminder that avalanche hazard is on the rise,” states the MIN report. “Please choose safe appropriate objectives and play safe this weekend.”
In 2023, an ice climber was fully buried and killed in a size 2 avalanche in the Ranger Creek drainage area in Kananaskis Nov. 11. Their climbing partner was also partially buried and able to dig themselves out.
In April, three skiers who entered a closed-off area of the Lake Louise Ski Resort triggered a size 3 avalanche, which fully buried and killed one in the party. Another person was partially buried and sustained minor injuries.
CANADIAN AVALANCHE FATALITIES 2000-24
The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.