Terrible Weekend for Avalanche Deaths and Injuries

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SouthEast Alaska Backcountry Adventures Heli Guide Injured in Avalanche 3/15/14


Undated photo of Aaron Kirtis. photo: SEABA-heli.com

Aaron Karitis, of Bend, Oregon, was seriously injured in an avalanche on Saturday. Karitis, a guide for SouthEast Alaska Backcountry Adventures, was leading clients when the incident occurred. After expressing stability concern in the drop zone the group moved further along a ridge line. Karitis, the only one caught in the slide, was carried over 800 vertical feet by the slide. He was buried under 7 feet of snow for half an hour before being rescued by fellow guides and clients after half an hour.

The incident occurred in the Kicking Horse Valley, West of Haines, AK. Karitis was transported to a clinic in Haines and was expected to be transferred to the hospital in Anchorage. In 2013 a SEABA guide was killed and two clients were caught in an avalanche when the cornice they were standing on collapsed.


Snowmobiler Injured in Cooke City Avalanche 3/15/14


Photo of the slide zone on Mount Abundance. photo: mtavalanche.com

One snowmobiler was caught and seriously injured in an avalanche in the Cooke City area in Montana on Saturday, March 15th. The 28-year old male was traveling with 13 others near Mount Abundance. Slide occurred on the South face of Mount Abundance on a faceted layer near the ground. The snowmobiler was buried to his head and sustained two broken legs. He was flown to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.


Snowmobiler Killed in Blue River, B.C. 3/15/14

One snowmobiler was killed North of Blue River, in the Okanogan Range in B.C. on Friday night. The 36-year old man from Saskatchewan was traveling with a friend near Red Sand Mountain when the slide caught both party members. A nearby group of snowmobilers traveling in the area rushed to their aid. One man was immediately rescued and the second was rescued but succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Clearwater RCMP and Search and Rescue were called to the scene at 7:20pm, but were unable to respond until Saturday morning due to high avalanche danger on Friday night.


Father and Son Killed in Lake Louise Avalanche 3/9/14

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Mount Fairview, the area where the father and son were found. photo: Agence Zoom/Getty Images

A father and son were killed in an avalanche in Lake Louise while tobogganing. The father, 33, and his son, 11, were last heard from on March 9th when they rented a toboggan from Chateau Lake Louise. They were not discovered until March 14th, when they failed to check out of the hotel, after hotel staff alerted the RCMP, who enlisted the help of Parks Canada Search and Rescue personnel. The two bodies were located on Saturday afternoon by Parks Canada personnel.

The area in which they were found is an uncontrolled avalanche slope under Mount Fairview on the South West end of Lake Louise. The avalanche danger in the region has been rated at high, so it is likely the two were unfamiliar with avalanche terrain and hazards.


Skier in Critical Condition After Lake Louise Avalanche 3/15/14



Man injured near Bow Lake, Banff National Park being transferred to evac helicopter. photo: David Husdal/QMI

A skier is in critical condition after being buried in a slide near Bow Lake in Banff National Park. The 38-year old man was traveling as part of an experienced backcountry group. The slide occurred approximately 3pm completely burying the man. His companions were able to locate and uncover the man in approximately 15-minutes, but found him unresponsive. Party members, by chance, flagged down off-duty paramedics on Highway 93, who helped perform CPR while others went to call for help, as there is no cell service near Bow Lake. The man was flown by helicopter to the Lake Louise warden office and then to Calgary, where he remains in critical condition.


One Injured in Slide Near Telluride, CO 3/16/14



Serpent Couloir looking up from where the victim was recovered. photo: San Miguel County S. O.

One man suffered a broken tib/fib after being caught in a slide on Yellow Mountain in the Telluride Backcountry. The man was skiing in Serpent Coulouir on Yellow Mountain when the slide occurred around 3pm and slide nearly 1500 vertical feet. The man was skiing with a partner, who was not caught in the slide. Both Search and Rescue and a helicopter were notified. The man was airlifted to the Telluride airport then transported to the hospital.


Man Suffers Injuries in Avalanche north of Bridger Bowl 3/14/14

A man was injured while skiing north of Bridger Bowl in the Barney Avalanche Slide Path area. The skier was caught in a slide that released when a large portion of cornice broke off. The skier was able to free himself and was helped by fellow skiers and ski patrol. The man was later transferred to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.


Tallying it up, there were 7 reported avalanche incidents with injuries or deaths. 9 people were buried, 5 injured, and 3 were killed. Throughout the west there remain persistent weak layers that continue to be involved in avalanches. Please check your local avalanche bulletin and familiarize yourself with the hazards!

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3 thoughts on “Terrible Weekend for Avalanche Deaths and Injuries

  1. Very sorry to see this list. My condolences to those affected.

    Another list that would be shocking (but impossible to compile) is the close calls. I was in Revy during that week and saw/heard of so many human triggered/massive naturals/close call avalanche incidents in that zone alone. And its back to “high” danger there today.

    1. Agreed. A real shortcoming with avy reporting is that the VAST majority of human-caused slides are never reported, much less discussed in the mainstream media (or the skistream media). Kudos to those who share their stories in public forums – it takes cojones.

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