Skip to content

Two people buried up to shoulders in slide, avalanche conditions hazardous

“We made a quick adjustment but at that moment we popped a large slide above us."
Avalanche rating for Banff National Park on Wednesday and Thursday (Feb. 28 & 29).

KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK – Two skiers had a lucky escape after getting swept away in an avalanche on the north side of Mount Whymper in Kootenay National Park on the weekend.

According to Avalanche Canada’s Mountain Information Network (MIN), two people were buried up to their shoulders while the other two in the group managed to stay on top of the slide, which occurred on Saturday (Feb. 24).

“No injuries in the party. Lots of lessons learned. Be safe out there,” wrote the reporting person on MIN.

On the way up the north bowl, the reporting person said they noticed a variety of snow textures from crust, to isolated loaded patches and stale facets, but eventually decided to turn back because visibility was getting bad.

To avoid dipping into the lowest part of the plateau, they contoured around to the bottom of the east moraine, and almost immediately noticed a change in snow sound and texture.

“We made a quick adjustment but at that moment we popped a large slide above us,” according to the reporting person.

The recent weekend storm dumped anywhere from 35-55 cm of snow across the region, and coupled with strong winds, changed the avalanche conditions.

“Recent loading from 35-55 cm of new snow and strong winds, and avalanche activity has the hazard elevated,” according to Parks Canada.

“Natural avalanche activity should taper on Tuesday, but conditions will remain ripe for human triggering.”

According to Parks Canada, there have been several reports over the past 48 hours of natural slides plus skier and climber-triggered avalanches to size 3, a rating that means it could bury and destroy a car, damage a truck, destroy a small building, or break a few trees.

The incidents included the one on the north side of Mount Whymper, plus another at Corral Creek 3 and around the corner from Corral Creek near Lake Louise.

“Several avalanches are failing on the Feb. 3 crust down 50-60 cm and some step down to weaker layers,” states Parks Canada on the Avalanche Canada website.

As of Tuesday (Feb. 26) and into Wednesday (Feb. 27), the avalanche danger rating for Banff National Park is considerable in the alpine and at treeline. Below treeline, the hazard is considered moderate.

For neighbouring Kananaskis Country, the hazard is rated considerable in the alpine, at treeline and below treeline on Tuesday and Wednesday,

However, Avalanche Canada is predicting the danger will be high on Thursday (Feb. 29) at both alpine and treeline in both Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country, and considerable below treeline

Kananaskis Mountain Rescue warns backcountry enthusiasts to watch for signs of instability like whumpfing, hollow sounds, shooting cracks or recent avalanches.

"Avoid travelling in run-out zones. Avalanches have the potential to run to the valley floor."

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks