ALBERTA

Wapata Icefield Avalanche: Lacombe Man Shares Terrifying Ordeal

02/17/2016 11:09 EST
The Alpine Club Of Canada

LACOMBE, Alta. — An Alberta man who was swept off a cliff by an avalanche last week is now back home recovering from his injuries and recalling the terrifying ordeal.

Todd Wyatt of Lacombe, Alta., was one of 11 skiers who were on their way to Bow Hut on the Wapata Icefield north of Lake Louise on Friday when they were caught by a 100-metre-wide avalanche.

A few made it to the hut, but seven others were caught in the snow slide that fully buried one skier, broke Wyatt's leg and injured a third skier's knee.

The group managed to dig the buried member out and called for help on a satellite phone.

Wyatt says he was "swallowed up'' by the flow of the snow.

A sound like a gunshot

He says it all started when he heard a sound like a gunshot and saw a slab of snow headed straight for them.

Wyatt says he managed to take a couple of steps but then the snow beneath him dropped away, adding his leg "snapped like a toothpick.''

He says he didn't even pay attention to the pain, knowing that his first priority had to be surviving being buried by the snow.

"As it came to a stop, I kind of expanded my ribs with a deep, deep breath, so I could at least have a breathing spot. At that last moment, I kind of punched out my left hand in front of my face and it came out on the surface.''

Skiers were prepared

Parks Canada says having the right equipment and being prepared helped the backcountry skiers.

The avalanche risk was too high for a ground-based rescue in the dark, so the group found a safe area to spend the night and waited to be airlifted out by helicopter on Saturday morning.

Wyatt has had surgery so doctors could put screws in his lower leg.

(CTV Calgary)

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