Avalanche Death in Nelson, B.C.

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Kootenay Pass.  Image Credit: Nelson Star
Kootenay Pass. Image Credit: Nelson Star

A 27-year-old male skier lost his life in an avalanche on Kootenay Pass near Nelson, B.C. this past Sunday.  The avalanche victim was skiing with 3 partners when the avalanche struck.  A 27-year-old woman was also caught in the slide and badly injured.  Neither person caught in the slide was fully buried but both received trauma due to hitting trees while descending in the avalanche.

“The man went right to the mid-slope and travelled a great distance through a lot of timber.  The woman was hung up on a tree near the top and it’s probably what saved her.” – Nelson Search and Rescue’s Chris Armstrong

Kootenay pass terrain.  photo:  Andy Bond
Kootenay pass terrain. photo: Andy Bond

It took search and rescue crews 7½ hours to rescue the injured woman.  

“With her injuries, we decided if we hunkered down we may not be able to get her out if it snowed. So we deemed it best to get her out, and brought in all the manpower we could.”

“We basically did it by sheer manpower.  Hours of grueling slogging, pulling a stretcher through the snow.” – Nelson Search and Rescue’s Chris Armstrong

Thanks to the Nelson search and rescue crew for putting in such a strong effort to save this woman.  Very impressive, team.

Map showing location of Kootaney Pass, B.C.
Map showing location of Kootaney Pass, B.C.

These two avalanche victims were part of party of four that were all from the Neslson, B.C. area.  They were backcountry skiing in the Lightning Strike area, southwest of Kootenay Pass, B.C.

The Avalanche has been rated as class 2 or 3 and took the deceased man through a wooded area then over a cliff.  The two uninjured skiers in the party were quickly able to locate the avalanche swept man, but he was already deceased.

26 people were involved in the rescue and recovery.

Avalanche danger is relatively high in the Kootenay’s right now:

“That long drought left the surface of the snowpack in very bad shape.  Now the new snow is sitting on one of the worst weak layers we’ve seen in a few years.” – Karl Klassen, Canadian Avalanche Center

Klassen also mentioned that the weakness in the snowpack is about 1-2 meters deep causing very large avalanches when triggered.

A special public avalanche warning issued by the Canadian Avalanche Center was in effect when this avalanche occurred.

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