A man has died after falling into a tree well while skiing in the Whistler, BC backcountry, reports Squamish RCMP. Over 30″ of fresh snow had fallen recently on the area.
Paramedics and Whistler Search and Rescue were called to the Brandywine Bowl skiing and snowmobiling area around 4:45 pm on Thursday.
“Police were able to determine the preliminary details where a man was backcountry skiing with a group and had fallen into a tree well. BC Ambulance and Whistler Search and Rescue were initially called to assist but unfortunately, the male in his early 30’s did not survive.”
– Squamish RCMP
This is the third backcountry death in the Sea-to-Sky area this week, following two snow bikers’ deaths on Monday 28th December who were caught in an avalanche.
“It appears this current incident, as with the one on Monday, the group had all the knowledge, skills, equipment, and receivers necessary. If these unfortunate events can happen to the most experienced this can happen to anyone.”
– Sergeant Sascha Banks
The BC Coroners Service has been called in to investigate, and anyone with information who has not yet spoken to Whistler RCMP is being asked to call 604-932-3044.
A tree well is a void or depression that forms around the base of a tree, and most likely under the branches that hang from those trees, disguising the void. This void may contain a mix of low hanging branches, loose snow, and air. While skiing or snowboarding, it is tough to determine if a tree well exists, so skiers and riders should treat every tree the same.
Incidents occur with deep snow accumulations and tree well immersions, where a skier or snowboarder falls into an area of deep, unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized.