A 63-year-old man has died after falling head-first into a tree well while skiing near the Ratfink run on Whistler Mountain on Saturday morning.

The man was treated by a doctor on the mountain but succumbed to his injuries after he was transported to the Whistler Health Care Centre, according to Whistler-Blackcomb safety manager Brian Leighton

Leighton said the man was from the Lower Mainland, but his identity has not been released. The B.C. Coroners service is investigating the death.

Tree wells are holes in the snow that form right next to the trunk of trees as snow falls from their boughs.

"A tree well incident occurs when a person falls, head first, into an area of deep snow around the base of a tree and becomes immobilized. The more the person struggles the more entrapped in the snow they become," said Leighton.

Leighton says risks of a tree well accident or fatality can be reduced by following these basic practices:

  • Always ski or ride with a partner.
  • Keep your partner in sight and stay in visual contact so they can see you if you fall.
  • Stay close enough to either pull or dig each other out.