British Columbia

Vancouver man dies in backcountry skiing accident east of Kelowna

Police say the man fell into a tree well near Keefer Lake Lodge on Monday.

Police say the man fell into a tree well — a concealed depression of loose snow surrounding the trunk

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP say a skier from Vancouver died in B.C.'s Monashee Mountains on Monday. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Police are investigating the death of a backcountry skier Monday near Keefer Lake Lodge, east of Kelowna in B.C.'s Monashee Mountains.

RCMP said in a release the skier was a 51-year-old Vancouver man who died after being separated from a 14-person cat-ski tour group.

Cat-skiing is a sport where ski hill grooming vehicles take skiers out into the backcountry for their runs.

The group searched for him, police said, and discovered he had fallen into a tree well — a concealed depression of deep, loose snow near the base of a tree — and was unresponsive.

A graphic showing a tree well surrounded by a snowpack. (Duk Han Lee/CBC)

"Unfortunately... it was reported that the skier fell head first into the well," said RCMP spokesperson Cst. Kelly Brett. "This is a really tragic incident."

He was airlifted to hospital, but succumbed to his injuries.

Police say the death is not considered suspicious and the coroner is also investigating.

With files from Jaimie Kehler