The bodies of three climbers killed in a fall on Joffre Peak in the backcountry north of Pemberton, B.C., have been recovered by a search and rescue team.
Police have not released the names of three people, but they are described as a male and female in their 30s from the Lower Mainland and a female in her late 20s who was an international visitor.
Initially the victims were thought to be ice climbers, but RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair said they appeared to be walking up the central couloir — a steep narrow chute or gully on the side of a mountain — wearing crampons.
LeClair said the three climbers were all roped together and were near the top of the couloir when they fell about about 600 metres to their deaths.
He added that the husband of one of the women killed found her body Sunday night and had to hike out to tell others. According to police, the three climbers had been part of a larger group, including some skiers, who had plans to rendezvous at the end of the day on Sunday, but when they didn't arrive the skiers went looking for them.
Police and Pemberton Search and Rescue launched a search using a helicopter at first light on Monday morning.
"Shortly after the search started, three bodies were located approximately 300 metres below the main couloir at Joffre Peak," said Sgt. Rob Knapton.
Members of the Pemberton Search and Rescue team returned with the bodies by helicopter just after 1 p.m. PT Monday.
Police are still trying to notify next of kin of the other two victims, one of whom appears to have been visiting from Germany.
The bodies were found at the bottom of a couloir, which climbers often use as routes up peaks, while extreme skiers use them as routes down.
Backcountry skier Paul Cordy described this particular couloir as extremely dangerous.
"That's like the king line of the peak. I've actually skied that a couple of times and it is 100 per cent consequences," said Cordy.
"It's so steep that you're unable to arrest the fall on your own.... In general, that's a place where very experienced and capable mountaineers go."