Two mountaineers were caught and injured in an avalanche on 11,033′ Mt. Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park, Canada on September 13th, 2016.
One climber swam in the avalanche for 250 feet. He sustained minor injuries and was very very lucky.
“The group member who was caught ‘swam’ within the debris and eventually self arrested with the aid of an ice axe after traveling ~75m in the avalanche (distance is uncertain).” -Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
20-60cms (8-24″) of new snow had fallen in the days leading up to the avalanche accident.
The avalanche was 24″ deep (failing to the ground), 50′ wide, and 3,330′ long. It fractured on a slope that was 30-40º steep.
FULL AVALANCHE REPORT:
by Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
September 13th, 2016
“The Jasper area has seen upwards of 20cm of storm snow in the High Alpine (3000m+) in the previous week, while winds have transported available snow into pockets up to 60cm deep. The Columbia Icefields area has received 40cm, or more, during the same period. The combination of the recent snow, afternoon temps hovering in the teens coupled with prolonged sun exposure has created prime avalanche conditions in the Alpine, which the following event will depict.
A group of two were descending the west ridge on Mtn Edith Cavell at 0400pm in the afternoon, when they veered off the ridge and began descending a bowl shaped feature they ascending in the morning. The snow was firm and provided good boot steps in the early hours of the day, but by the time of their descent the group found the snow had changed and was not supporting their weight, was heavy and snow ‘balling’ as they walked down.
They also observed many small avalanches in the area. The two were walking separate lines when they both heard the Whumph! The moist/wet slab fractured 2 meters above the first group member (the second member was off to the side and was not caught), 60cm deep (failing on the ground), 15m wide and ran ~1000m (details are uncertain, could have ran farther near valley bottom). South West feature with a slope angle between 30-40 degrees and was uniform in shape.
The group member who was caught ‘swam’ within the debris and eventually self arrested with the aid of an ice axe after traveling ~75m in the avalanche (distance is uncertain). They remained on the surface and sustain multiple cuts, bruises and a severely strain (possibly broken) left ankle. The second group member assisted their partner while traveling down the remainder of the slope to the trail at the valley bottom where they were picked up by Parks Canada Visitor Safety staff early the next morning after they were reported ‘overdue’ at 0230am.”
– Association of Canadian Mountain Guides