NEWS

Bad weather hampering rescue efforts on Wapta Traverse

03/17/2013 03:55 EDT | Updated 05/16/2013 05:12 EDT
Search and rescue crews are on standby—waiting for the weather to clear—so they can try to rescue a man who disappeared down a crevasse on the Wapta Icefield, near Lake Louise, on Wednesday.

According to a spokesperson with Parks Canada, the accident happened just after midnight on Wednesday.

A group of three skiers from British Columbia, two men and one woman, were on the Wapta Traverse, an alpine traverse in the Wapituk range of the Rockies. The team was skiing at an elevation of about 2,600 metres, when one of the men fell.

The skiers immediately activated a search and rescue beacon, which sent out a distress signal and immediately alerted rescue crews. However, because of blizzard conditions and high avalanche risks, Parks Canada says rescuers didn't reach the skiers until Friday.

"It was impossible for us to actually access the site, or get ground crews near so that they could ski-tour up to the site," says Steve Holeczi, a Visitor Safety Specialist with Parks Canada.

A man and a woman were rescued. They were found unharmed. Officials said they managed to to survive by digging a snow hole and using a stove and sleeping bags to stay warm.

Holeczi says rescuers are now waiting to see when they can to go back for the third skier.

"Because it's so high, and the weather in the mountains is so unpredictable, we're watching the general weather trends but we need enough time to be able to get down into the crevasse in order to assess the situation," he says. "So we need good weather in order to get up there and also to get our team out of there safely."

Holeczi says rescuers have not yet made contact with the man who fell into the crevasse. They also say they are cannot speculate on the man's condition.

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