2 people were killed in avalanches in 2-days this weekend in British Columbia, Canada.
3 people died in avalanches in the USA yesterday, February 14, 2021.
20 people have died in avalanches in North America in the past 16-days – the deadliest avalanche cycle in North American history.
On Saturday, February 13, 2021, a 45-year-old man was killed in an avalanche near Whistler, B.C., Canada.
On Friday, February 12, 2021, a size 3 avalanche (large enough to destroy a house or bury a car) in the Poop Chutes off Blackcomb Glacier near Whistler, B.C., Canada killed a skier and injured another.
Dangerous avalanche conditions have resulted in 4 serious search & rescue calls in the past 3-days including these 2 fatalities and many more serious injuries, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
“The backcountry in the Sea-to-Sky [area] is not stable at the moment, it’s time to wait and postpone your touring trip here for another time.”
“This is hard on all of us: Search teams, bystanders, police, and most importantly the loved ones of those who have died and been injured. Their stories have valuable lessons of which we all need to learn from.”
- RCMP Sgt. Sascha Banks said in a media release.
Full details on both accidents in the RCMP press releases below.
The USA has seen 24 avalanche deaths this season and there have been at least 5 avalanche deaths in Canada this season.
Avalanche in the Brandywine Bowl claims life of snowboarder
Whistler, Sea to Sky
2021-02-13 17:27 PST
File # 2021-732
On Saturday, February 13th, 2021 at approximately 2:03 pm Whistler RCMP were notified of an avalanche in the Brandywine Bowl of which multiple people had been swept into and one person remained missing.
Those in the area immediately began searching for the snowboarder and Whistler RCMP and Whistler Search and Rescue headed into the Callaghan Valley area. Approximately 45 minutes later the 45 year old male from the Sea to Sky was located, and unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries.
It is believed the group of three were caught in an initial avalanche and while trying to get out of the area another avalanche occurred which the trio was unable to avoid. The Whistler RCMP will work alongside the BC Coroners Service in order to determine events which led up to this and other fatal incidents as of late.
“Four serious Search and Rescue calls in the last 3 days, 2 of them fatal, and a multitude of serious injuries,” stated Sergeant Sascha Banks. “The calls speak for themselves…the backcountry in the Sea to Sky is not stable at the moment, its time to wait and postpone your touring trip here for another time. This is hard on all of us: Search teams, bystanders, police, and most importantly the loved ones of those who have died and been injured. Their stories have valuable lessons of which we all need to learn from.”
Sea to Sky RCMP and Search and Rescue teams have tragic and tough start to the weekend
Squamish, Sea to Sky, Whistler
2021-02-12 15:41 PST
File # 2021-821
***Updated as Squamish RCMP skier has been located.
***Update #2 Whistler avalanche was 2 separate avalanches, release updated
The Sea to Sky RCMP, including Squamish and Whistler RCMP have had a busy few days alongside their local Search and Rescue teams with three separate calls for assistance in 24 hours.
The first call came on Thursday, February 11th in the late morning where two back country skiers had been caught in an avalanche in Garibaldi Provincial Park in the Super Couloir Area on the back of Mamquam Mountain. One of the skiers was injured and both required extraction. Due to the high winds RCAF 442 Squadron and the Cormorant were called to assist and successfully retrieved both males.
On Thursday, February 11th, 2021, at approximately 11:30 pm Squamish RCMP were contacted due to an overdue backcountry skier who was solo touring in the Elfin Lakes area. Police were able to locate the males vehicle in the parking lot leading to the Upper Elfin Lakes Trail and contacted Squamish Search and Rescue to assist in locating him. This morning and into today, Squamish SAR, Lions Bays SAR, North Shore Rescue, Whistler SAR, and Pemberton SAR have been searching throughout the tough and hazardous terrain and a short time ago the man was located on upper Mamquam Road and is being treated for extensive exposure.
On Friday, February 12th, 2021, at approximately 3:20 pm Whistler RCMP was notified of a size 3 avalanche in the Poop Chutes off Blackcomb Glacier. Multiple skiers were swept up in the avalanche. Three people were located: one was located with injuries, one was uninjured, and unfortunately one was pronounced deceased by a doctor in the area. Whistler RCMP are working with Whistler Blackcomb ski patrol, Blackcomb Helicopters, and Avalanche technicians and dogs on scene to determine if anyone else was caught in the avalanche. Whistler RCMP are asking to call the detachment at 604-932-3044 if they believe anyone overdue out of that area. A second smaller avalanche occurred just prior to in on the Phalanx close to the Spierhead Glacier where a skier sustained serious injuries and was flown via air ambulance to an LMD hospital. It was initially believed it was one avalanche but in fact it was two separate in the same area.
“We have said this multiple times already this year, the snowpack in the backcountry of the Sea to Sky is unstable and is subject to considerable and high avalanche risks,” said Sergeant Sascha Banks. “This is relevant for close proximity and popular backcountry areas such as Blackcomb Glacier, to Garibaldi Provincial Park, and the Brandywine Bowl from January. I cannot stress enough that you need appropriate avalanche equipment, train how to use it, recognize risk, and have up to date beacons/transceivers and that you know how to use them. These exact things saved lives yesterday in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Anyone coming here needs to check Avalanche Canada for reports and even decide that now is not the time to be touring in the Sea to Sky.”
If anyone has any information in regards to those who may have been on the backside of Blackcomb today and are unaccounted for please call Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044.
Sgt. Sascha Banks
Sea to Sky Operations Support NCO i/c
1000 Finch Drive, Squamish BC V8B 0M5