Snow Suffocation Death at Whistler’s Opening Weekend

Dylan Cautela |
Extra special access to the white room, only at Whistler Blackcomb’s opening day! Source; Whistler Blackcomb Facebook Page.

An unfortunate tragedy has befallen Whistler Blackcomb resort on their opening weekend. A 27-year old snowboarder perished on Saturday due to suffocation in the deep snow of an off-piste run. The snowboarder was riding alone in the Crystal Ridge area on a glade run known as Arthur’s Choice. Brad Sills, Whistler’s Search and Rescue manager, speculates that the rider fell face first into the deep light snow and was unable to get himself out.

“I think he fell face first. It is easy in these conditions to fall and not be able to get out.”

Brad Sills, Whistler’s Search and Rescue Manager

Mountain Patrollers arrived on scene around 12:15 pm where they found a member of the public conducting CPR on the unresponsive patient. Patrol took over the CPR and continued it until a defibrillator was brought to the site. At 1:17 pm the patient was pronounced dead.

No... no it will not.
And it just keeps piling, and piling, and piling up. Will it ever stop? Source; Whistler Blackcomb Facebook Page.

Whistler has received over three meters of snow so far this season with two meters falling just this past week, which creates a very unconsolidated and unsafe snowpack. With hazards such as creeks, rivers, and crevasses lurking just below the surface, extra caution is advised. While the snow may appear bottomless, without any time to consolidate these hazards remain open. Until the immense amount of snow packs and bonds into a more firm condition, only then will snow bridges begin to form and cover up these issues through the rest of the season.

“It is early season and you have to be extra precautionary, there are open creek beds, open crevasses, there are lots of hazards out there right now.”

Brad Sills, Whistler’s Search and Rescue Manager

Hopefully, this unfortunate incident will not go unnoticed. Patrol at the resort has been doing all they can to mark unsafe terrain since day one and the high alpine remains in high avalanche danger, but it’s the choices of the public that make all the difference. Please take extra caution when skiing after such a large storm event such as this, no matter where you may be.

Tree wells can be very dangerous.
Tree wells can be very dangerous.

Learn More:

Tree Well Suffocation Safety Information:

I haven't skied a day that good in my entire life let alone on opening day...
Looking stupendous for an opening weekend at Whistler Blackcomb. Source; Whistler Blackcomb Facebook Page.

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