Provincial News

Two killed, two hurt in latest deadly avalanche in B.C.'s backcountry

By The Canadian Press

Published 12:37 PST, Tue January 24, 2023

Two more people are dead in an avalanche in British Columbia, lifting the toll to the deadly season to five. 

RCMP say the two people died in a slide Monday near Mount McCrae southeast of Revelstoke.

Police say they were with a small group heli-skiing in the backcountry near an area known as "Chocolate Bunnies."

Heli-skiing operator CMH Nomads says two guests and a guide were caught in the slide.

CMH president Rob Rohn said in a statement that two of the three people were fully buried by the slide and were located by their transceivers. 

Both guests were unresponsive when they were pulled from the snow and were later pronounced dead in hospital, he said. 

The guide was transferred by ambulance to Kelowna General Hospital.

Revelstoke RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Chris Dodds said the guide involved remains in hospital in serious condition.

The latest deaths come just days after a snowmobiler died after being caught in a slide triggered from above south of Valemount, B.C. Two Nelson Police Service officers were buried by snow Jan. 9 while skiing near Kaslo, B.C. Const. Wade Tittemore, 43, died in the slide, while his co-worker, Const. Mathieu Nolet, died days later in hospital. 

Rohn said in the statement that the thousands of guests who ski with them each winter are like family.

"It is impossible to put into words the sorrow that we feel and the sadness that is shared by our guests, their families and all of our staff."

An investigation is being co-ordinated by the B.C. coroner and the RCMP. 

In a separate slide on Monday, B.C. Emergency Health Services said it was called following an avalanche near Cherryville east of Vernon, B.C., where one person was taken to hospital. 

Experts have warned that this season's snowpack across much of the province is particularly unstable with a weak layer of snow crystals near the bottom that was buried in late November.

In a statement, Sarah Taylor with Avalanche Canada said it’s important to know that a "dangerous snowpack structure" exists in the B.C. Interior that can produce large, human-triggered avalanches. 

"We urge backcountry users to exercise caution and make conservative, low-consequence choices if they decide to travel in avalanche terrain," she said. 

Taylor said backcountry users should always check the avalanche forecast, have the essential rescue gear and the training to use it.

– Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press 

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