Almost a month before a Seattle snowmobiler plunged the equivalent of of 10 storeys to his death down a hole on the Appa Glacier, sledders were being warned about the deep three by four metre opening in the ice.
Snowmobiler Ray Mason thinks a lot more could have been done, and believes if either the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club or Recreation and Trails B.C. had marked off the hazard area the death could have been prevented.
"The PVSC club was informed about the hazard and did nothing about it," wrote Mason on his Facebook page. "Today a sledder from Washington died in it."
The club shared Mason's photo of the oval-shaped hole on social media Feb. 23. The picture shows snowmobile tracks leading right up to its edge, suggesting a near miss by one sledder.
'There's hazards everywhere'
PVSC vice president Tyler Kraushar says there are many reasons the hazard was never marked, including the fact that there are hundreds upon hundreds of hazards in the vast area of ice fields, which makes marking an unrealistic proposition.
"When you go into the back country you are responsible for your own safety and actions, and that is the standard under which we all operate," said Kraushar. "There's hazards everywhere. [Marking] actually makes safety go down because now [snowmobilers] are going to expect all the hazards to be marked."
The PVSC does collect fees to maintain and groom a 22-kilometre trail from Highway 99 to their cabin.
"That's where our liability and responsibility ends," said Kraushar. "Up on the glaciers is well beyond our mandate."
Also, he says, the club is volunteer run.
"That's what I am and that's what everyone else in the club is. Obviously we don't have a huge budget and staff that we can pay to mark holes in the back country."
Snowmobilers had been warned
Kraushar believes flat light conditions likely made it difficult to see the hole on the day of the accident.
"The group with the gentleman who fell in the crevasse, they told me that they knew it was there," he said.
"Obviously they didn't know the exact location because we can't be up there signing these things, but they'd been warned by our gate attendant at the bottom, and they saw it on our social media post."
This isn't the first time a snowmobiler has fallen into a hole or crevasse on the Appa Glacier.
"We had a snowmobiler fall in a few years ago," said Kraushar. "They were fine, they were recovered, their snowmobile was left in there. They went back three days later to go and recover the snowmobile and the hole was completely closed over."
"Conditions are constantly changing in the backcountry," he said. "That's the reality of nature."
After this story was published, CBC News was contacted by Eric Lundt, a friend of the deceased and a member of his snowmobiling group on the Appa Glacier. Lundt says the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club gate attendant did not inform anyone in their party of 10 about the hole in the glacier, either the day before or the day of the accident.
When asked to respond, Tyler Kraushar stated, "We had asked our gatekeeper to inform as many people as she could. Obviously I'm not there to make sure she's informing every single individual."