Deaths mark worst year for fatalities in Glacier National Park

The deaths of seven teens in Glacier National park marks the worst year ever for deaths in the park.

Investigators are gathering in Revelstoke to probe the second fatal avalanche in the district in under two weeks.

Six teenage boys and one girl, all from Alberta, were killed Saturday by an avalanche in Glacier National Park. The tragedy comes just 12 days after seven skiers were killed by an avalanche on the nearby Durrand Glacier.

It is now the worst year for avalanche fatalities in the region for at least 20 years.

The helicopters were still flying in and out of the Parks office Sunday at Rogers Pass, 65 kilometres east of Revelstoke. On Saturday, they carried out the survivors and the casualties of the slide on the Balu Trail.

The one-kilometre long avalanche came down on a party from the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir private school near Calgary. There were two teachers and an adult chaperone. Seven of the teenagers were killed.

John Jones, the manager at Glacier Park Lodge for 18 years, says "this is definitely the worst the park has ever seen." Jones says the avalanche is taking an emotional toll on the people who work and play in Glacier National Park.

"For us it will have a devastating effect, because most of our business is backcountry skiing, and the people who do backcountry skiing are our regular customers."

But with fourteen people killed in less than two weeks, the business of backcountry touring that is at risk. "I'm imagining it will have an impact on our business over this winter. In the long-term it won't because the people who do this are the enthusiasts," he said.

But the deaths of so many people may lead to changes in British Columbia's beautiful, but dangerous backcountry.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has said he will look at more funding for avalanche research and prevention.