British Columbia

Body recovered after snowmobiler killed in avalanche near Valemount, B.C.

The snowmobiler was killed Friday.

RCMP were called to the Clemina Creek area on Friday

Snowmobile tours are popular in B.C.'s mountains. In this handout photo, snowmobilers ride through a mountain region of British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Snowmobile Adventures (Canadian Snowmobile Adventures/Canadian Press)

One snowmobiler is dead after an avalanche swept through a popular recreation area near Valemount, B.C.

RCMP were called to a forest service road in the Clemina Creek area Friday afternoon, Cpl. Madonna Saunderson wrote in a release.

The snowmobiler's body was recovered Saturday, after unstable conditions forced search and rescue crews to postpone their initial attempts a day earlier. His identity has not been released.

The BC Coroners Service has taken over the investigation.

'Considerable' risk

Ilya Storm, a forecaster with Avalanche Canada, said the avalanche danger in that area was "considerable" on Friday, meaning the danger was elevated and human-triggered avalanches were likely.

He said preliminary reports indicated that three people were involved in the incident: one person's snowmobile got stuck on a snow-covered slope. Two other individuals on snowmobiles tried to help get it free.

Their combined weight may have caused the avalanche.

"This is consistent with a pattern we see which is multiple people on a slope at one time when the avalanche is triggered," Storm said.

A map showing the location of Clemina Creek. The recreation area is south of Valemount and about five hours southwest of Edmonton near the B.C.-Alberta border.

Storm says in situations like these, it's often better to let a person stuck in the snow dig themselves out, rather than coming onto the slope with them.

"It's important to minimize exposure to the rest of the group," he said.

"Having multiple people on a slope, especially with danger at considerable or higher, is not a good idea. Even if you're providing assistance, it's still an unsafe practice."

Clemina Creek is about 30 kilometres south of Valemount. The area will be closed to the public on Saturday.

With files from CBC's Zoe Todd

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