BRITISH COLUMBIA

Avalanche Near Whistler Blackcomb Buries Skier

03/19/2013 04:42 EDT | Updated 05/19/2013 05:12 EDT
WHISTLER, B.C. - A skier was sent to hospital but believed to be uninjured after an avalanche hit a group of backcountry skiers on Tuesday near the British Columbia resort community of Whistler.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair said the avalanche hit about half a dozen skiers on Spearman Glacier, outside the boundary of the Blackcomb Mountain ski area.

"Whistler Search and Rescue, along with some Blackcomb ski patrol members and a mountain doctor attended the area via helicopter," said LeClair.

"It was learned that one person was buried for up to four minutes, was unconscious, then regained consciousness."

LeClair said the skier was transported to hospital by helicopter to be checked out, while the crew worked to remove the rest of the group by helicopter.

"It's not believed that there are any other serious injuries, however, some of them did lose their ski gear in the avalanche."

He noted that particular glacier is commonly accessed by people already skiing Blackcomb who leave the ski area boundary.

"It sounds like they were backcountry skiing, which is a legitimate recreational activity," he said.

Search and rescue officials just north of Vancouver have been busy this winter season tracking down enthusiasts who have gone out of bounds. Their message has been to stay within the ski area.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre rated the danger of a slide Tuesday in the Sea-to-Sky region at considerable in the alpine and moderate around the treeline.

But forecasters warned that another nasty storm was rolling toward the B.C. Coast, bringing the potential for high winds and more snow.

They urged backcountry skiers and snowmobilers to take special care because another dump on last weekend's snowfall could create dangerous conditions.

Joe Lammers said about 40 centimetres of snow came down last week in the Columbia Mountains, east of Kamloops, and high winds blew much of it into unstable windslabs at the treeline and above.

The south and northwest coast regions had high avalanche danger ratings, but most other regions were rated "considerable."

Lammers warned the chance of large slides would climb after the storm hit Tuesday night.

(The Canadian Press, CHNL)

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