Warm Spell Triggers Avalanche Killing Canada Skier

By Salon Staff

Published December 30, 2011 7:36PM (EST)

PEMBERTON, British Columbia (AP) — A warm spell and heavy, wet snow are creating a risk of avalanches in western Canada, including one that killed a backcountry skier, officials said Friday.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sgt. Alex Boden said a man in his 30s from Whistler, British Columbia, was critically injured in a Thursday afternoon slide near Pemberton.

Boden said an air rescue Thursday afternoon was impossible because of nightfall. The risk of more slides are inhibiting recovery of the skier's body.

The man was skiing with three friends on what had been a remarkable day of deep powder, fresh tracks and almost spring-like temperatures in the backcountry trails in the Casper Creek region, northeast of Whistler. The skiers took to the trails despite warnings from the Canadian Avalanche Center of a high avalanche danger across almost all regions of the province for the past few days.

"This gentleman paid with his life," said Sgt. Peter Thiessen.

"One of his close buddies remained with him on the cold, dark mountain waiting for help while his buddy was dying, and you can only imagine what that must have been like for that individual," said Thiessen.

Rescuers planned to return with more equipment to bring the body out, but Thiessen said bad weather in the area could delay removal for some time.

Western Canada has become a danger spot for avalanche-related deaths. Eleven people died in snow slides in Western Canada between 2010 and 2011.

Salon Staff

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