People are being told to stay away from avalanche terrain following a number of avalanches on Vancouver Island.
The most recent avalanche occurred on the north side of Mount Cameron — west of Buckley Bay — on Sunday, seriously injuring a woman.
A group of four was ski-touring when one of them caused the snow to break free, sending that person and a second skier down in the avalanche.
“One was able as the snow slowed down to pop his head out of the snow and was able to actually free himself and then turn into rescue mode,” said Sebastien Marcoux of Comox Valley Ground SAR.
The group then turned its attention to the woman who was buried in 135 centimetres of snow.
“It took about five minutes to locate and extricate the woman who was buried,” said Paul Berry, Comox Valley Ground SAR search manager. “She had sustained some significant injuries, trauma to lower leg as well as a dislocation.”
Marcoux was one of two members of Comox Valley Ground SAR to be flown to the scene by RCMP Air Services. They landed near the injured victim, packaged her up, and flew her to a waiting ambulance at the Courtenay Airpark.
According to a report submitted to Avalanche Canada, two skiers were on a treed ridge feature when one of them went onto a small convexity that was roughly 35 degrees steep, resulting in a fracture to occur about 20 metres above the skier.
The fracture ended up pulling both that skier as well as another skier on the small ridge feature, into the slide.
Another avalanche also occurred Sunday, this time, in an area south of Mount Washington.
A man and his snow bike were completely buried in a metre of snow for eight minutes before his properly equipped friends were able to dig him out alive.
On Monday, a storm system brought heavy snow to the mountains on Vancouver Island, which has resulted in avalanche warnings being extended through to Thursday.
The risk is considered “high” in the alpine to below the tree line and Berry says people need to be prepared if they are heading out in the backcountry.
“For anyone who is traveling in the backcountry whether it’s on snowshoes or on a snowmobile or backcountry skis they need to be prepared for self-rescue,” he said.