Two skiers, buried in weekend avalanches in B.C., saved by friends: Avalanche Canada

Two skiers, buried in weekend avalanches in B.C., saved by friends: Avalanche Canada

Avalanche Canada confirms two skiers have been caught and injured in separate slides east of Pemberton, B.C.

The Avalanche Canada website says both events happened Saturday and each one involved a fully buried skier who was saved because of the quick work of others in their group.

Both victims had to be airlifted to hospital after smashing against trees and suffering various injuries while being swept along by the snow.

Avalanche Canada says the “deep and persistent” problem related to the unstable snowpack still affects most slopes in the B.C. backcountry and is now complicated by newly formed, touchy wind slabs.

Slabs, which are layers of stiff, wind-deposited snow, have been seen at all elevations and on all aspects of coastal mountains and the website says, when triggered, they can slice down to the weakest part of the snowpack, causing large avalanches.

Twelve people have died in six separate avalanches around southern B.C. since January, and Avalanche Canada has repeatedly warned people to make “conservative, low-consequence choices” if they head out at all.

Ryan Buhler, a forecast program supervisor with Avalanche Canada said last week that the weak layers of the snowpack are so deep that clues of instability are hard to spot, and he warned spring weather will make conditions even less stable.

“We know sunny weather can create a false sense of security and lure people out into avalanche terrain, even though unstable conditions exist,” Buhler said in a statement.

“Even 30 minutes of sun can have a significant impact on the snowpack at this time of year,” he said.

Interior Health, which provides health services in the area where all of B.C.’s avalanche fatalities have occurred this year, has urged outdoor enthusiasts to “consider delaying a backcountry trip until conditions are safer.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2023.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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