2 killed in avalanche near Golden, BC

A 2019 photo of the area known as Terminator 2.5 near Golden, BC.  On February 16, 2023, two people were killed in an avalanche in this area.  (Michel Beauchemin - photo credit)

A 2019 photo of the area known as Terminator 2.5 near Golden, BC. On February 16, 2023, two people were killed in an avalanche in this area. (Michel Beauchemin – photo credit)

Two people have died in an avalanche outside of a ski resort boundary near Golden, BC, Avalanche Canada said Thursday.

A group of five snowboarders and one skier were in an area known as Terminator 2.5 in the Purcell Mountains of southeastern British Columbia when an avalanche was triggered. Four members of the group were involved, Avalanche Canada said.

The avalanche buried three members of the group. One was partially buried and extracted. Two were fully buried and did not survive.

BC Emergency Health Services said they received a call just before noon Thursday about an avalanche southwest of Kicking Horse Ski Hill. Four ambulances were dispatched and paramedics took one patient to the hospital in stable condition.

A second group of snowboarders, who were further down the slope when the avalanche was triggered, were hit by the slide but were not injured.

The magnitude 3.5 avalanche was 115 meters wide and 950 meters long with a crown depth of 1.5 meters, Avalanche Canada said, and “walked on a weak facet layer near the base of the snowpack.”

Avalanche deaths in BC

“The snow cover inside [B.C.’s] Interior design is still incredibly complex and difficult to manage,” Avalanche Canada said on social media on Thursday.

“Deep, persistent slab problems may not show any signs of instability before a large avalanche occurs. They are most likely to be triggered on steep and rocky slopes where snowpack is thin or variable.”

Very volatile season

The latest fatalities bring the total number of avalanche deaths in BC to nine in 2023, including two backcountry skiers who died in an avalanche about 40 kilometers south of Lake Tatla, BC, on Saturday, two off-duty officers with the Nelson Police Department said on duty were a ski trip near Kaslo, an Alberta man who was snowmobiling south of Valemount, BC, and two brothers from Pennsylvania who were on a guided heli-skiing trip in upstate BC.

Avalanche Canada compared this season’s snowpack to conditions last seen in the winter of 2002-2003, when 25 people lost their lives in upstate BC, making it one of the province’s worst years for avalanche fatalities on record .

Meteorologists say this year’s snowpack, with a faint layer of sugar-like crystals near the ground, is responsible for the dangerous conditions.

People venturing into the backcountry are urged to review the avalanche forecast and make conservative decisions about what terrain to explore. According to official information, an avalanche transceiver, a snow probe and a snow shovel are essential, as is practice in their use.

A timeline of avalanche events this season

Dec 31: A skier suffers life-threatening injuries in a slide near Emerald Lake in southeast BC, near the Alberta border, Avalanche Canada says in a report.

January 5th: Avalanche Canada warns of a sensitive snowpack with various weak layers caused by long periods of drought and cold weather.

“Drivers have triggered large, frightening avalanches with high consequences,” says the report.

January 9: Two off-duty police officers are caught in an avalanche while skiing off-road near Kaslo, BC. Nelson Police Service Const. Wade Tittemore, 43, dies and Const. Mathieu Nolet, 28, suffers serious internal injuries.

21th January: Nolet dies of his injuries in hospital.

21th January: Two snowmobilers driving at the base of a bluff near Valemount, BC accidentally trigger an avalanche from above, throwing a slab of snow at one rider while the other escapes. The buried driver becomes unresponsive and dies.

January 23: Heli-skiers and their guide are caught in an avalanche near Revelstoke, BC. The two guests, brothers and American businessmen Jon and Tim Kinsley, are dug lifeless out of the snow and pronounced dead at the hospital. The leader is taken to the hospital in stable condition.

January 23: A slide falls on a person near Cherryville, BC. Paramedics say the person is being taken to hospital with undetermined injuries.

February 11: Two skiers were caught in an avalanche at Potato Peak, 175 km southeast of Prince George. Both victims were buried alive and found dead by search and rescue workers. One of those killed is identified as an off-duty member of the local search and rescue team.

February 16: Three people are buried in an avalanche triggered outside of a ski resort boundary near Golden, BC. One is partially buried and pulled out while two are fully buried and do not survive.


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