Kananaskis Country avalanche kills hiker, officials urge caution

A Calgary man hiking alone was killed in an avalanche in Kananaskis Country after he was caught in a wet snowslide Monday.

Recent rain and snow has increased avalanche risk, warns Alberta Parks

Officials are urging the public to be extra cautious in the backcountry, after an experienced hiker was found buried by an avalanche on Tuesday. (CBC)

A Calgary man hiking alone was killed in an avalanche in Kananaskis Country after he was caught in a wet snowslide Monday, officials say.

Rescuers believe the man, an experienced scrambler, was descending a trail on Mount Lawson when an avalanche swept him roughly 300 metres down into a gulley, inflicting serious trauma. 

The extraction effort on Tuesday afternoon was a lengthy operation, due to avalanche risk to rescuers, said Mike Koppang, Alberta Parks public safety specialist. 

While avalanche deaths are not common at this time of year, Koppang is urging backcountry users to use extra caution, especially after late-season snowfalls.

"We tell people just to be really heads up after a snowfall or a rain event, to sort of avoid the steeper terrain," he said.

"Give the snow or the face a little bit of time to stabilize, and just be aware that there's a higher potential for rock fall when it's either raining or just had a recent snowfall."

Avalanche expert Albi Sole says hikers and scramblers need to realize there's always the potential for avalanche risk in the Rockies. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Avalanche expert Albi Sole said warm weather can quickly destabilize snow at higher elevations. 

"Unfortunately this time of year people typically aren't carrying avalanche gear anymore," Sole said.

"You're probably going to start seeing some activity, and if you don't see natural activity but you start walking on that slope you might get something going."

Those looking for updates on backcountry conditions can check the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Mountain Conditions Report online. 

With files from Dave Gilson