Avalanche warning issued for northern and inland B.C.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued a special warning for the northwest coastal and inland regions.

Brother of man buried in Spearhead avalanche urges backcountry users to weigh dangers

The Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued special avalanche warnings near Kitimat, Terrace, Hazelton, and Smithers 2:03

The Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued a special warning for the northwest coastal and inland regions.

The warning applies to areas that include Kitimat, Terrace, Stewart, Hazelton and Smithers.

An avalanche could be triggered by just the weight of a skier or snowmobiler, even on low-angle terrain, says Ilya Storm, forecast co-ordinator with the Canadian Avalanche Centre.

"What's special about this is that it extends into the alpine, so it's at high elevation," Storm said. "We're seeing surprisingly big avalanches with wide propagations and even remotely triggered avalanches."

The warning is in effect immediately and will carry into the weekend.

Storm says while the sunny weather this weekend may be inviting to skiers and snowboarders, he advises backcountry users in the area to be extra cautious.

Whistler-area avalanche a close call

On Tuesday, an avalanche at the Speahead Glacier near Whistler-Blackcomb caught a party of six off guard.

Six people were caught in an avalanche in the backcountry near Whistler, B.C. One person who was buried by the slide for four minutes was pulled out unconscious, and resuscitated. (CBC)

Ski coach John David Levine, who was in that group, found himself digging his brother out from the snow and ice.

His brother was unconscious for four minutes, and wasn't breathing properly for 20 minutes, but was taken out by helicopter, and a concussion is so far the worst of his apparent injuries. 

Still, Levine says it was a harrowing experience, and he is concerned for the other potential avalanche victims.

"My concern is that so many skiers go in this area, and I just hope that they don't take it lightly — as lightly as I took it at least — because it is so dangerous," Levine said. 

"You still are out-of-bounds, even though you feel like you're right there [on the patrolled mountain]."

Skiers warned of tree wells

Skiers are also being warned to beware of tree wells this weekend after a 70-year-old man died while sking on Ferguson Mountain, north of Trout Lake and southeast of Revelstoke, B.C.

On Thursday afternoon, a California man travelling with the Great Northern Cat Skiing tour group fell into a tree well — a hole created when deep snow accumulates around the base of a tree.

The other skiers pulled him out and performed CPR, but the man died at the scene, said Barb McLintock, spokeswoman for the B.C. Coroners Service.

"Tree wells are constantly a risk for skiers unless you're on a groomed run," she said.

McLintock said there are usually one to two tree well deaths in B.C. every year.

The B.C. Coroners Service and RCMP are now investigating the death.

with files from the CBC's Jaimie Kehler and Dan Burritt