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Heads Up! These Weekend Avalanches Could’ve Killed Skiers

There were at least three noteworthy avalanches this past weekend that skiers should take note of.

In the Canadian Rockies, skiers escaped a class 1.5 after triggering it on Dolomite Ridge. To this, mountain guide Mark Klassen noted, “Typical terrain of the avalanche problem we have right now.”

“Steep, thin, with exposed rocks and a convex roll. That side of the gully will have been shaded in the fall and therefore the snow didn’t melt entirely in October, leading to the crust and facet combination which was buried in late October and November.”

When we have a close call in the mountains, it’s important to own our mistakes and learn from the experience. It isn’t easy to write about, but by being self-reflective and transparent and sharing the lessons learned, we all benefit and it makes our whole community more resilient. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Yesterday, I unintentionally remotely triggered a D1.5 size avalanche while skiing in the Banff backcountry with @rob.lea and @confessionsofaskibum. No one was caught or injured. I posted a note about the incident on my Facebook. You can read it via the link below or in my profile. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Some takeaways: Do a beacon check at the trailhead to make sure everyone is sending and receiving. Be aware of how the presence of a camera changes your assessment and willingness to take risks. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Communication between group members is key. Speak up if you feel uncertain. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Radios are a good idea. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Low danger does not equal no danger. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m glad no one was caught and it was a good reminder early in the season to evaluate decision-making and to keep improving how I manage risk in the mountains and move through avalanche terrain. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photo: @confessionsofaskibum Check out his page for the entire sequence of the avalanche. https://m.facebook.com/notes/caroline-gleich/december-1-2018-unintentional-remotely-skier-triggered-avalanche-near-lake-louis/1975878002507040/

A post shared by Caroline Gleich (@carolinegleich) on

Watch the Avi


Fernie Search and Rescue responded to a potential avalanche burial in Cornice Bowl involving three skiers on Sunday.

According to Fernie SAR, the skiers were touring when one of them dropped in but was caught in a slide. “Unable to make contact with the skier, and knowing that they would lose cell coverage once they dropped in, the remaining two skiers made the excellent decision to initiate a SAR response,” said Fernie SAR.

Fernie SAR had two Avalanche Technicians on scene to find the skier had slide more than 200 metres in the avalanche. Despite the slide, Fernie SAR said the skier had not been buried and was uninjured.

According to Fernie SAR, the slide was at 2,300 metres elevation and ran 300 metres, it was 20 metres wide with a 15-centimetre crown.

Fernie Avalanche 02/12/18

Jackson Hole

An inbounds avalanche happend at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort that buried five skiers in the southern end of the Expert Chutes.

It was opening day for the Thunder Lift which closed shortly after the avalanche occurred. Jackson Hole had seen over a foot of new snow in the 24 hours prior to yesterdays slide.

Official Statement from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort:

(December 1, 2018) – Teton Village, WY – An avalanche occurred within the ski area boundary earlier today at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR). This slide, which occurred in the southern end of the Expert Chutes, was reported at approximately 9:55 am and before 10 a.m. Jackson Hole Ski Patrol and staff were on the scene.

Multiple skiers were caught in the slide, and five individuals were buried to varying degrees. Once on scene, Patrol immediately responded to the individuals caught in the slide, then Ski Patrol made a hasty search of the area with two dogs, a Recco device and beacons.

A larger scale search and probing of the area to ensure no other guests were caught in the debris followed. At approximately 11:20 am JH Ski Patrol concluded the search of the area, while it remained closed to guests. The parties involved in the incident did not experience any significant injuries.

JHMR will be conducting avalanche reduction efforts this afternoon and Thunder Lift will remained closed for the day. We thank everyone who helped support this incident today; safety of our employees and guests is always our number one priority.

Jackson Hole avalanche 01/12/18

Avalanche Canada

The close calls are serving as early reminders to all skiers, snowboarders and backcountry users about the potential for avalanche’s early on this winter season.

Always check Avalanche.ca before heading into the mountains.

Be prepared by wearing an avalanche rescue beacon that signals your location, learning how to use the rescue equipment and by practicing using the rescue equipment.