Two brothers narrowly escaped with their lives after one of them triggered an avalanche just outside the boundary of the Lake Louise ski hill Saturday (March 26).
The skier who triggered the class 2.5 slide has video footage of his dangerous ride down Lipalian 3 from a helmet camera he was wearing. Helmet cams are becoming an increasing trend with skiers and riders.
Neither of the brothers was buried in the slide, but rescuers say the pair had a close call and noted they had both left their avalanche transceivers in their hotel room.
“I think what saved the skier who triggered it was the fact he was behind most of the debris,” said Aaron Beardmore, visitor safety specialist for Banff National Park.
“He triggered it right at the top so all the debris was in front of him and that’s why he wasn’t buried.”
The class 2.5 slide ran 250 metres and was more than a metre deep. It occurred within the lease, but outside of the ski area boundary in an area known as Lipalian 3, which is accessed from the Larch chairlift.
A witness riding the chairlift initially reported a skier had been caught in the avalanche, but within half an hour the two brothers came out of the area and reported they were responsible for triggering it.
The Lake Louise avalanche response team was first at the scene and Parks Canada’s rescue team was called in. They sent rescuers from Lake Louise and Banff.
The Banff dog handler was not available, but Jasper’s dog handler was called, as was an RCMP dog handler from Lethbridge who was training in Kananaskis Country.
Beardmore said the two Ontario brothers, one aged 19 and the other 25, confirmed they were the ones that triggered the avalanche.
He said the snowboarder went down first, and stopped at the bottom to wait for his brother.
“We talked to him and he said he thought for a second, ‘I probably should get out of the way’,” said Beardmore.
“Then the skier dropped in and triggered the avalanche. The fact that he exercised that thought process and moved away saved his life.”
Beardmore said Parks Canada encourages skiers and riders to check the avalanche bulletin and take an avalanche course.
“We encourage them to ride and ski with care and due diligence,” he said.