Weekend Avalanche Roundup | 3 Dead, 3 Close Calls

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Snowmobiler Killed in Avalanche Near Paulina Peak

paulinapeaknorthbowlNorth Bowl of Paulina Peak, the ‘playground’. This is the zone the avalanche occurred in on Sunday photo: splitboardoregon.com

A snowmobiler was buried following a slide on Paulina Peak, the highest peak of the Newberry Volcano near Bend, Oregon. Kyle Thomas was out with two friends when he was caught in the avalanche around 3:30pm on Sunday. His two companions immediately started searching for him in the debris pile.

The avalanche occurred on the North side of Paulina Peak, an area called ‘Paulina Peak Playground,’ around 7,300′ on a 35 degree slope. The slide was 600′ wide and 75′-100′ in length, piling debris 3′-5′ deep in the runout. There is no avalanche forecast issued for this area of Oregon. Nearby Mount Bachelor has received close to 3 1/2 feet of snow in the past week, so dangerous avalanche conditions could be expected above treeline.

Around 5:50pm Thomas’ friends and family, who had come to the area to help, recovered Thomas. He was pronounced dead once Search and Rescue personnel arrived on the scene around 20 minutes later. Tragically none of these snowmobilers were equipped with avalanche rescue gear, so the victim was not located until over 2 hours later. Kyle Thomas was the son of the owners of Paulina Lake Lodge, located very close to the slide.

Paulina-Roller-Coaster-AvalancheSimilar Paulina Peak slide from 2010. North aspect, 7350ft. Also fatal. photo: threesistersbackcountry.com


Two Snowshoers Killed in Alps Avalanche

rabatlocationLocation of the village of Rabat-les-Trois-Seigneurs. image: Google Maps

A group of three snowshoers in the alps were caught and buried in an avalanche in the Pyrenees on Saturday around 1:30pm. The group of three, two men and a woman, were roped up at the time the avalanche hit them, trapping all three of them. One of the men was only partially buried and was able to alert rescue services. The other two party members did not survive while the third was treated for significant injuries.

The avalanche occurred near the village of Rabat-les-Trois-Seigneurs and was approximately 300m long. The avalanche danger forecast for Saturday was considerable following the return of warmer temperatures and spring conditions to the region.


Three Survive After Kananaskis Country Avalanche Burial

heroknobHero’s Knob. Definitely some interesting and serious looking terrain. photo: braggercreekrecration.com

Three people survive after being buried in an avalanche on Sunday. Kananaskis Country is located west of Calgary in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. The three were part of a group of six skiing at Hero’s Knob, a popular backcountry spot.

Four of the group were caught in the avalanche; three were buried completely while one was partially buried. The three that were buried were all located and uncovered within 10 minutes. Two of the completely buried skiers had air pockets in front of their mouths, while the third had snow in his mouth and throat. All three of the completely buried skiers were unconscious when recovered. By the time the rescue helicopter arrived all three buried skiers were breathing on their own. The group was incredibly fortunate; none of the members caught in the avalanche sustained serious injuries and nobody was hospitalized.

Details on the the size, length, and type of avalanche have not been released. The avalanche forecast for Kananaskis Country on Sunday, issued by the Canadian Avalanche Center, was moderate at and below treeline and considerable above. From the history of avalanche activity throughout the Rockies this season, it would not be surprising to learn that this avalanche failed on a persistent weak layer.

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