Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fatal weekend for avalanches

NELSON, B.C.—A man was killed and a woman taken to hospital following a dramatic rescue Sunday from a massive avalanche in southeastern British Columbia, in what was a deadly weekend in the backcountry.
Search manager Chris Armstrong said the pair was among a group of four skiers trekking through a high, remote section of Kootenay Pass between Salmo and Creston on Sunday afternoon when they were hit by a slide that swept them over a cliff.

Armstrong said yesterday that the two remaining members of the group skied to a nearby highway to call for help while six other skiers who were near the slide began rescue efforts.
A helicopter was brought in for the rescue but could not be used because of poor weather and the lack of daylight, Armstrong noted.
“We ended up calling in four [search-and-rescue] teams from the area and had a total of 26 people do a seven-and-a half-hour evacuation of the female that was injured,” he said.
“It was incredibly arduous and very physical to evacuate her from that terrain.”
Armstrong said the “destructive” avalanche crowned at 100 cm—about hip-high.
“It carried the two individuals over a cliff face and down through some old-growth forest,” he noted.
RCMP said all four skiers are from Nelson, B.C.
The 27-year-old woman was taken to hospital in Trail while the 27-year-old man’s body remained at the scene.
Searchers were to return to the mountain to continue efforts to recover the victim’s remains.
“As the avalanche risk is very high in this area, police are advising to stay out of the back country,” the RCMP said in a statement.
In a separate incident in Pemberton, north of Whistler, a 29-year-old man also died Sunday while snowmobiling with friends.
RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said the Burnaby resident was among a group that had snowmobiled to a forest service road area to ski and snowboard.
Thiessen said that at one point during the day, one of the men was waiting for his pal to show up and eventually went looking for him.
“He hiked back uphill in the deep snow and found his friend upside down in a tree well,” Thiessen noted.
The man was pulled out but was unresponsive, blue, and not breathing, he added.
“The snowboarder and others began CPR. However, [they] were unable to revive their friend.”

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