2 Killed and 6 Caught in Huge Avalanche Outside Kicking Horse Ski Area, BC

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Photo showing the upper portion of the avalanche, including the crown. Credit: Avalanche CA

A skier and a snowboarder were killed in an avalanche in an area known as Terminator 2.5 outside of Kicking Horse ski area boundary near Golden, BC, yesterday.

A group of five snowboarders and one skier were caught in the avalanche, which the group triggered just above a cliff area. Four members of the group were involved. Three group members were buried by the avalanche, one partially and two completely. The partially buried victim was extracted and sustained injuries. The two fully buried victims did not survive.

Overview of the entire avalanche path. Photos from Golden and District Search and Rescue. Credit: Avalanche CA

A second group of snowboarders was lower on the track when the avalanche was triggered. They were impacted by the slide but were not buried and did not sustain injuries.

Four ambulances from BC Emergency Health Services responded just after noon, and paramedics took one patient to the hospital in stable condition.

The avalanche ran on a weak layer of facets near the base of the snowpack. The very large avalanche measured 400 feet wide by 3,100 feet long with a crown depth of 5 feet.

  • Avalanche size/type: Size 3.5, deep, persistent slab
  • Aspect: East
  • Elevation: 2,315 m / 7,595 feet
  • Number caught: 6
  • Number deceased: 2

“The snowpack in [B.C.’s] Interior is still incredibly complex and difficult to manage. Deep, persistent slab problems may exhibit no signs of instability before a large avalanche occurs. They’re most likely to be triggered on steep and rocky slopes where the snow cover is thin or variable.”

– Avalanche Canada

Avalanche location. Credit: Avalanche CA

The deaths are Canada’s eighth and ninth this season and the 14th and 15th in North America. Two guests on a guided heli-ski trip with Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) Heli Skiing were killed in an avalanche near Revelstoke, BC, on January 23rd. On Saturday, January 21st, a snowmobiler died after being caught in an avalanche near Valemont, BC. On January 9th, two off-duty officers from the Nelson Police Department were caught in a slide near Kaslo, BC. One died at the scene, and another two weeks later. On Saturday, February 11th, 2023, two backcountry skiers were caught and killed in an avalanche on Potato Peak near Tatla Lake, British Columbia.

Today’s forecast warns, “More snow fell overnight than expected. Reactive storm slabs may be found at all elevations. Carefully assess new snow amounts and dial back your terrain choice if more than 20cm of new snow is observed.”

Experts say the snowpack only gets this weak every 10 to 20 years, and this year is similar to 2003, one of the deadliest avalanche seasons on record.

Today’s forecast. Credit: Avalanche CA

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