According to Mountain Conditions Report, two climbers were carried and partially buried by an avalanche in Jasper National Park, Canada yesterday. The incident occurred on Mt Athabasca’s Silverhorn Route at an elevation of 10,500ft. The climbers were 650ft from the top of the route, when they triggered at an avalanche that carried them nearly 2,000ft down the mountain. The leader was partially buried, with his head and arm exposed, while the other climber managed to stay on top. They sustained serious injuries and were airlifted to Jasper.
Parks Canada Visitor Safety responded to an avalanche involvement with 2 climbers on Mt Athabasca, Silverhorn Route today.
The avalanche was triggered by the party of 2 while climbing, roped together, at 3200m on a North aspect. The group left the parking lot at 05:30. The avalanche occurred at approximately 10:30am, the weather was clear, light winds and near 0 degrees.
The leader described the climbing as ‘styrofoam like’ snow. The group was 200m from the top of the route when they heard and felt a whumph underfoot. Both members were swept away immediately.
The pair traveled 600m before coming to a stop below the ramp on the North Glacier. The leader was partially buried, with head and 1 arm exposed; partner was on the surface. They both had a shovel, probe and beacon and were used to excavate the leader. The team was taken by helicopter to Jasper with serious, but not life threatening injuries.
The avalanche measured 0.40m x 500m x 750m (est.), size 2.5. Previous early season snowfall in the region, and moderate winds have created isolated wind slabs in the alpine. No other natural activity was noted in the region.
Parks Canada would like to thank the ACMG guides who witnessed the avalanche, reported it and initially assisted the two subjects.