Home > Gripped Outdoors

Avalanches in B.C. Leaves One Dead, Several Rescued

A number of avalanches sent local search and rescue into action to bring survivors to safety

This weekend saw a number of backcountry users require a rescue due to avalanches with one person dying in a large slide. The avalanches were all around Pemberton north of Whistler.

Pemberton RCMP received multiple emergency rescue calls just after noon on Feb. 5. Search and rescue crews, the RCMP, helicopters and ground units were deployed in responding to a series of avalanches, and a snowmobile crash.

A skier died on Cassiope Peak, and another was seriously injured. In all, four skiers were caught in the slide. The second avalanche was on the Cassiope Trail Head, and at least two people were caught but not injured.

On the nearby Mount Cayley, a snowmobiler was seriously injured in an incident. Whistler SAR and North Shore Rescue responded, taking the sledder out for medical treatment. Nearly a dozen people had to be evacuated from the area.

“There is no doubt that the snowpack remains unstable and information from Avalanche Canada and in consultation with Avalanche experts in our area their is an immense risk in the Sea to Sky backcountry at this stage” stated Staff Sergeant Sascha Banks.

“We are concerned for additional large avalanches in the coming weeks with the increase in temperatures and sunny conditions, and ourselves and Pemberton SAR are asking you check avalanche ratings and plan your trips prior to heading out in our backcountry. We also want to thank all the bystanders and those involved who assisted today and to the Search and Rescue teams from Pemberton and Whistler who continue to rescue those in dangerous situations. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of all who were involved today.”

Pemberton SAR manager David MacKenzie stated: “Pemberton SAR responded with the assistance of Whistler SAR. We deployed search teams, including 2 helicopters, avalanche dogs, and a long line rescue team. It is always difficult for our team when it is not always a positive outcome and our thoughts are with all the friends, families, and those involved today.”

Pemberton RCMP and Pemberton SAR want all backcountry users to check avalanche ratings and plan their trips before heading out.