Seattle snowmobiler plunges to his death down hole in glacier near Pemberton

A 53-year-old Seattle area man died Saturday on the Appa Glacier near Pemberton after driving his snowmobile into a large hole and falling the equivalent of ten storeys.

The man fell 30 metres, or the equivalent of 10 storeys, after driving into a hole in the Appa Glacier

Feb. 23 photo shows the hole or moulin on the Appa Glacier into which the Seattle area snowmobiler drove his sled and died this past weekend. (Submitted by Ray Mason)

A 53-year-old Seattle area man died Saturday on the Appa Glacier near Pemberton after driving his snowmobile into a large hole or "moulin" and falling 30 metres, or the equivalent of ten storeys.

The moulin, which is a round vertical shaft that can be hundreds of metres deep, was described as being four metres by three metres wide. 

The man was sledding with nine other snowmobilers when the accident occurred, RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair told CBC News.

One of the riders set off a flare which alerted the crew of a nearby heli-ski helicopter.

The Appa Glacier is a popular destination for snowmobilers. (Submitted by Sterling Pearce)

"Two heli-ski guides set up a rappel system and one was lowered into the crevasse and was able to locate the subject and confirm he was deceased," said LeClair.

"Search and Rescue were activated and they attended with the police and coroner by helicopter, and they were able to recover the person."

LeClair says the group of snowmobilers were experienced and that alcohol was not a factor. 

The recovery was one of four snowmobile accidents Whistler Search and Rescue was called out to in a three-day period from Thursday to Saturday.

The other incidents — one each at Grizzly Lake, Gin and Tonic Lake and Sproatt Mountain — all resulted in the injury of snowmobilers who did not have first-aid or emergency equipment, according to SAR manager Brad Sills.

"Seems it's trending that snowmobile incidents are becoming the new norm," said LeClair. "It's concerning. Search and rescue is now being called an inordinate amount for people that have injured themselves snowmobiling."

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