According to Avalanche Canada, a solo snowshoer was killed after triggering a size 3.0 avalanche and being buried by it on Sunday, March 20th 2016. An avalanche classified as size three is considered large enough to destroy a car or small building, or break trees. The body of the snowshoer was discovered by rescue crews on Monday, March 21st 2016. The victim was not wearing an avalanche beacon at the time of the avalanche, which led to a difficult discovery for the rescue crews that were searching.
The fatal avalanche occurred on Tent Ridge in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country, which is about 2 hours southwest of Calgary. Tent Ridge is a popular hiking spot in Kananaskis Country that provides visitors with an incredible view of Spray Lake. The large avalanche was triggered near 2400 meters in the alpine and ran 800 meters. The rescue organization said the slide was human triggered, started in the alpine, the maximum crown depth was 1.5m and the minimum was 40cm. The crown stepped down to a January 6th layer and eventually reached the ground.
The avalanche occurred on Tent Ridge involving a wind slab, which is a cohesive layer of snow formed when wind deposits snow onto leeward terrain. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow. Wind has the ability to deposit snow 10 times faster than snow falling from the sky, which will drastically alter the snow conditions and increase the likelihood of an avalanche. The snowshoer is the ninth person killed in 2016 by an avalanche in Western Canada, which is relatively high for this time of the year. Its important to be prepared when venturing out in the backcountry, so no matter what method of transportation you are using; snowshoes, skis, snowboard, snowmobile, etc., always take time to prepare for the worst and stay safe out there!