A man died, and two others were injured after they triggered and were caught and buried by an avalanche while skiing the West Bowl at Lake Louise Ski Resort, AB. The area was closed to the public due to high avalanche risk.
The three skiers ducked a rope to access the area on Saturday afternoon. None of the individuals were wearing avalanche safety equipment, said a statement from the ski resort.
“At approximately 2:20 PM Saturday April 22nd Lake Louise Ski Resort received a call of an avalanche incident in a closed area of the resort called West Bowl. At that time both Parks Canada and EMS were contacted and an avalanche rescue team was dispatched to the location.
Upon arriving on scene it was determined that a group of three entered the closed area and triggered a size 3 avalanche burying two individuals. One individual was partially buried and rescued, but another was fully buried and did not survive. None of the individuals were wearing avalanche safety equipment. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased.
This is also a serious reminder of the dangers of entering closed terrain. For more information on general avalanche safety and awareness go to www.avalanche.ca.”
– Lake Louise Ski Resort statement
After the incident was reported, paramedics, Parks Canada rescue dogs, and RCMP attended the scene around 2:20 pm. He was flown to the resort’s medical hut and pronounced dead after resuscitation attempts failed. Two partially buried skiers were rescued, but another was fully buried and did not survive. The deceased man was buried for about an hour before being dug from the snow.
Avalanche Canada reports the size 3 slide was on the western face of Whitehorn Mountain. The slide was 650 feet wide and 1,800 feet long with a 20” crown.
“A skier-triggered avalanche occurred in a closed area within the Lake Louise ski resort. Two people were caught. One was partially buried and survived. One was fully buried and did not survive.
The avalanche was reported to be 200 m wide and 550 m long with a crown depth of 40-50 cm.”
The avalanche danger is currently rated ‘considerable,’ meaning natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered avalanches are likely.
The death adds to the fourteen already seen in Canada this season and 22 in the US. It is the first fatality in Alberta this season and the first since 2021. 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. On February 16th, an avalanche outside Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, BC, killed a skier and snowboarder. On Wednesday, March 1st, three people died, and four were injured in an avalanche involving nine heli-ski guests near Panorama Mountain Resort, BC. On Wednesday, April 12th, a heliskier was killed in northwestern BC. On Saturday, April 15th, a snowmobiler was killed after getting caught in an avalanche in the Thunderwater Lake area north of Panorama, BC.
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, which saw 25 fatalities in Canada.
Parks Canada is investigating the incident.