A 45-year-old skier has died in an avalanche outside of Revelstoke, B.C., the second such death in the province in as many days.
The unidentified Canadian male was in a group of 11 people, along with a guide from Canadian Mountain Holidays, on a heli-skiing excursion when the avalanche struck between 1:30 and 2 p.m. PT Friday afternoon.
The RCMP say one of the skiers triggered the deadly slide as they were descending the Selkirk range, about 35 kilometres southeast of Revelstoke, sending a 75-metre-by-250-metre mass of snow tumbling down the mountain.
"The information that we have is that the avalanche was human-triggered — was triggered by the skiers when they were on this run," said RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
Four people were buried but three managed to get out. The fourth, however, was unresponsive by the time he was uncovered and was pronounced dead at hospital some time later.
The RCMP said the deceased was wearing a transceiver, a device that makes it easier to locate a person in the event of an avalanche.
Onus on backcountry users
Police say the skier was not from the Revelstoke area and are waiting to notify his family before identifying him.
The B.C. Coroner's Service is leading the investigation with assistance from Revelstoke RCMP.
"All aspects of the man's death will be examined," Moskaluk said. "At the conclusion of that investigation we'll be able to make a proper determination as to exactly how this man's death occurred."
Moskaluk said backcountry users and members of the public should educate themselves and learn how to monitor avalanche conditions.
"The onus is on … backcountry users, these regulated outfitters too, to carefully examine and evaluate the current avalanche conditions prior to going into those areas," Moskaluk said.
"Backcountry users should always look at examining the current conditions prior to making their trips into the backcountry and, as well, to always go in equipped with the three basic pieces of gear — that being probe, transceiver and shovel."
Marty von Neudegg with Canadian Mountain Holidays said although there was a high risk of an avalanche, the company thought it was safe.
"We discuss all the runs that are available to us every day and we open and close terrain ourselves everyday," he said. "This particular run had been discussed by the team in the morning and determined it was a safe run to ski."
2nd avalanche death
On Thursday, Duncan MacKenzie, 30, an avid outdoorsman and long-time ski patroller from the Whistler Blackcomb resort, died in an avalanche in the B.C. backcountry near Pemberton.
MacKenzie and three others were on their last run of the day when the snowslide hit around 3 p.m. PT.
The avalanche hazard has remained high in many parts of B.C. for several days as a result of unusually mild temperatures. Numerous warnings have been issued to skiers and snowmobilers to exercise extreme caution when traversing backcountry trails.
Provincial officials have also closed several major roads in recent days in order to clear the avalanche risk, including the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden on Thursday.