Multiple people were buried in an avalanche in Kananaskis on Saturday 11th May, according to emergency responders. STARS Air Ambulance responded to Fortress Junction at around 6:20 pm, taking a female of unknown age to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. Two others, a teen boy and a woman, both with serious injuries but in stable, non-life-threatening condition were transported by EMS to Foothills.
Karl Klassen, with Avalanche Canada, says there isn’t much information about what happened but says there was a group of eight people, made up of two families, on dry ground well below the snow line on Mount Lawson when the slide occurred. The group did not have avalanche rescue equipment.
“An avalanche released above them and hit them,” he says.
Klassen says it’s been a pretty cool and snowy spring across many mountain ranges and now that temperatures are warming up, there is a high risk of avalanches in many areas. The avalanche was triggered by heat at about 9,200-feet in elevation and traveled a “significant distance downslope”.
“Quite a bit of snow fell at higher elevations even though we weren’t seeing much at lower elevations,” he says. “We’re still in avalanche season because of all the snow at upper elevations.”
There is a lot of misinformation about avalanches at this time of year, Klassen says.
“I think people underestimate how far avalanches can run and I think at this time of year, people don’t think about avalanches as a hazard because so much of ground is already dry [and] temperatures are warm.”
He wants to make sure that if anyone goes out into the backcountry, they need to remember to be aware of their surroundings, including what’s above them.