Two snow bikers have been found dead following an avalanche in Pemberton, BC, about 40-miles north of Whistler.
According to a press release, the Pemberton RCMP were notified at 5:22 pm of two missing snow bikers in the area of Goat Creek, Pemberton, BC. Police learned that backcountry guides in the area had reported a fresh ‘crown’ along Goat Peak’s side, indicating that an avalanche had been triggered. The guides further advised the avalanche debris area was 100m wide by 200m long. They could not locate any active beacons in the area or determine if the snow bikes made it to the other side of the avalanche debris due to the terrain and darkness. Pemberton Search and Rescue were notified; however, the search was set for first light due to nightfall and the risk to searchers.
On Tuesday, December 29, 2020, at approximately 8:30 am, Pemberton Search and Rescue, Blackcomb Helicopters, and an RCMP K9 unit began searching for the missing snow bikers.
Search crews located parts of the snow bikes in the debris field and then conducted a beacon search in the immediate area locating a signal. At approximately 10:00 am, two deceased males were located within the avalanche debris field. The BC Coroners Service was notified and is investigating.
The Pemberton RCMP will not be releasing the identities of the recovered individuals.
The Pemberton and Whistler RCMP would like to remind others heading to similar areas to carry proper equipment, be aware of local conditions and avalanche risk, and ensure someone is aware of their location and plan.
1/3 Caution backcountry users in the Coast Mountains ⚠️
There were at least four large avalanches that occurred yesterday in the mountains close to Whistler and Pemberton. They ran on a weak layer that formed in mid-December, now buried 60-100 cm below the snow surface. pic.twitter.com/Ne2m6FUU7z
— Avalanche Canada (@avalancheca) December 29, 2020
The avalanche risk for the Sea to Sky is rated “considerable,” with Avalanche Canada warning of a complex snowpack, with a persistent weak layer buried approximately 60 to 100 centimeters below the surface.
“At this time, we are really trying to get the message out that there is something unusual going on. We’re concerned with those mid-pack layers and the persistent slab problem. What that does is it sort of decouples the avalanche hazard from the storm cycle. So even in the lulls between the storms or when the conditions look fairly good, it doesn’t mean that the snowpack is safe and you can go anywhere. In fact, quite the opposite. We’re asking people to dial things back and select more simple, lower-angle terrain.”
– James Floyer, forecasting program supervisor for Avalanche Canada