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Avalanche kills Kelowna man in Alberta's Kananaskis Country

A view of the debris after a fatal avalanche on a mountain known as The Tower in Alberta's Kananaskis Country. (Avalanche Canada - image credit)
A view of the debris after a fatal avalanche on a mountain known as The Tower in Alberta's Kananaskis Country. (Avalanche Canada - image credit)

A 19-year-old man from Kelowna, B.C., was killed in an avalanche in Alberta's Kananaskis Country on Sunday, according to Canmore RCMP.

Police said the avalanche happened around 1 p.m. on a mountain known as The Tower, about 25 kilometres south of Canmore and just east of Mount Engadine Lodge.

"One of the males was able to escape by digging himself out of the snow; however, the second male was buried," the RCMP said in a news release.

Police said they recovered and the man's body on Monday morning with the assistance of Kananaskis Mountain Rescue.

In an incident report posted on the Avalanche Canada website, the avalanche was described as a Size 3, meaning it it was large enough to bury a car or destroy a small building.

The slide was estimated to be 450 metres wide and 50 centimetres deep, on average, running downslope for 550 metres.

An aerial view of the avalanche on a mountain known as The Tower in Alberta's Kananaskis Country.
An aerial view of the avalanche on a mountain known as The Tower in Alberta's Kananaskis Country.

An aerial view of the avalanche on a mountain known as The Tower in Alberta's Kananaskis Country. (Avalanche Canada)

The skier who died was buried about 1.9 metres deep, according to the report. The other skier managed to locate him with an avalanche transceiver, dig him out and attempt CPR.

"But unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries due to the burial," said Michael Olsthoorn with Kananaskis Mountain Rescue.

The surviving skier, whose skis were lost in the avalanche, then had to walk out of the area and drive to cellphone range to call for help.

"I can't imagine what was going through his mind," Olsthoorn said.

The deceased skier was wearing an avalanche airbag but it was not deployed during the slide, according to the incident report.

Avalanche Canada reported on its website that two other "close calls" with skier-triggered avalanches were reported in the Kananaskis area within 24 hours over the weekend, one near Burstall Pass and another near Tryst Lake.

The avalanche danger scale for Kananaskis Country on Sunday was considerable in the alpine and at treeline, and moderate below treeline.