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Falling Tree Critically Injures Climber at Lake Louise

Debris from the falling tree Photo Parks Canada

A climber who was not wearing a helmet has been critically injured from a falling tree at Back of the Lake at Lake Louise, while two other climbers who were wearing helmets were injured but not as severly.

The three climbers were hit when a dead tree fell at the Outhouse Wall, a popular crag with moderate routes.

“It’s a good risk management piece to wear a helmet,” Peter Tucker, the executive director of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), said Wednesday.

“If you are close enough to the bottom of the climb that you might get hit by falling rock, or in this case a tree, which is incredibly unusual, then it makes even more sense to be wearing the helmet all the time.”

While falling trees are rare, falling rocks are very common.

Five Reasons to Wear a Climbing Helmet

“Parks Canada would like to remind all visitors who engage in activities like rock climbing to be aware of the inherent risks associated with these activities,” said the statement.

“Remember to be aware of your surroundings and use the appropriate safety and protective equipment.”

Mountain Conditions Report of Incident

Today Parks Canada responded to a group of climbers that were hit by a falling tree at the Outhouse Wall at the Back of the Lake climbing area at Lake Louise. High winds likely toppled the brittle snag. It fell 80 to 100 metres. The tree impacted the group of climbers standing at the bottom and critically injured one climber, while two others had moderate injuries.

ACMG Mountain Guide Mike Stuart was in the immediate area and took decisive action in providing emergency care and assisting Parks Canada with the response. Thank you Mike.

The area is NOT closed. There is no ‘hang-fire’ or residual hazard left from the tree that fell. However, a flight after the fact indicated that there are dozens of dead trees above climbing area, specifically the Outhouse Wall. This risk will always exist at this popular location. Always wearing a helmet and considering leaving the area in periods of high winds are ways to reduce your risk.