Mountain Guide Dies in Avalanche in Western Canada

SnowBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche
Robson Gosmer.
Robson Gosmer.

45-year-old mountain guide and son of Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) founder Robson Gmoser died in a size 3 avalanche near Golden, B.C. on Tuesday at 5pm.  He was skiing solo near Sorcerer Lodge, a mountain hut near Mt. Iconoclast.

Gmoser had broken his femur in an avalanche in this same zone several years ago.

Gmoser was setting a skintrack for his clients to use the next day when the avalanche struck.  He was with a guide-in-training, who was waiting as Gmoser investigated a zone called the Heinous Traverse.

Gmoser was buried 5-feet deep and it took the guide-in-training 30-minutes to dig him out.  5-feet deep is a very tough dig for one person.  Gmoser was unresponsive once dug out.

Sorcerer Lodge, B.C.
Sorcerer Lodge, B.C.

A helicopter and two doctors who were in the Sorcerer Lodge responded but they were unable to revive Gmoser.

Avalanche danger was rated as “Moderate” or a 2 out of 5 at the time of the avalanche.

Mr. Gmoser was well known in the skiing community in Western Canada. The son of Margaret Gmoser and the late Hans Gmoser, who founded Canadian Mountain Holidays and invented helicopter skiing, Robson Gmoser owned and operated Battle Abbey, a storied mountain lodge in the Selkirk Range. He had worked as a guide since 1985, and had been skiing since his infancy. For his 14th birthday, his mother and father let him take a two-week back-country ski trip, alone, in the middle of February, leaving on skis from the back door of their home in Harvie Heights, near Canmore. He leaves his wife Olivia and their young son, Max. – The Globe and Mail

Sorcerer Lodge area.  photo:  angel manguel
Sorcerer Lodge area. photo: angel manguel

Western Canada’s snowpack had been relatively stable until a recent warming a few days before the accident.

“There was almost no hazard up high, until it warmed up,” Mr. Stanier said. “This was one of those low-probability, high-consequence events.” – Larry Stanier, Canadian mountain guide

This was only the 4th avalanche death in Western Canada this winter.  On average, about 12 people normally have died in avalanches in Western Canada by this time of year.

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