BRITISH COLUMBIA

Avalanches In B.C. And Alberta Claim 3 More Lives

03/10/2014 06:19 EDT | Updated 05/10/2014 05:59 EDT
The last couple of weeks of warmer weather and wet, heavy snow across have created extremely dangerous avalanche conditions in the mountainous regions of British Columbia and Alberta.

Over the weekend, three people — a snowmobiler and two snowshoers — died in two separate avalanches.

On Saturday, a 34-year-old snowmobiler died in hospital, hours after being pulled from an avalanche at the foot of the Monashee Mountains, in an area approximately 50 kilometres east of Vernon.

UPDATE: BC Coroners Service has identified the snowmobiler victim as Adrian John (AJ) Cleary, 34, from Coldstream.

Two snowshoers travelling in a group of five were killed at Lake Louise after an avalanche there.  Someone in the group was able to call 911 and rescuers flew in by helicopter

Police said no one in the group had any avalanche safety gear, such as beacons, transceivers, shovels or probes.

'Fundamentally unstable snowpack'

The Canadian Avalanche Centre's Joe Lammer says much of B.C. and the Rockies is still facing a high avalanche risk that goes back to February's cold snap.

"After that first week in February, pretty much throughout the province, those weak layers got buried and, you know, deep in the snowpack there is a hard surface plus weak sugary layers, and then this new snow on top," Lammers said.

"So it is kind of like that hardwood floor with marbles on top of that, and then a big white mattress on top of that. So, just a fundamentally unstable snowpack," he said.

In some places the danger is at every elevation. This past weekend, several B.C. highways were closed for avalanche control measures, including Highway 1 between Revelstoke and Golden and Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass.

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