NEWS
03/17/2017 17:00 EDT | Updated 03/18/2018 01:12 EDT

Bodies of 2 missing snowshoers recovered from avalanche site in Rocky Mountains

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Parks Canada says the bodies of two American snowshoers who were caught in an avalanche in Banff National Park have been recovered.

Officials believe the man and woman from Boston died sometime last weekend.

The couple, both 32, failed to check out of their hotel Tuesday in Field, British Columbia.

Their rental vehicle was found at a trail head on Highway 93 — known as the Icefields Parkway. Snowshoe tracks were spotted near the avalanche debris.

Grant Statham of Parks Canada said he and another searcher walked up from the trail head on Tuesday and saw one of the victims partially buried, but the avalanche danger was too high to continue.

"We tried for the remainder of the evening to access the site until darkness on Tuesday," he said Friday. 

"There was an incoming storm, it began to snow and it warmed up and it was too dangerous."

It wasn't until Friday morning that conditions were deemed to be safe enough to try again. A helicopter lowered six searchers to the site to dig.

One victim was recovered under two metres of snow, and the second was covered by a little over three metres.

The families of the snowshoers were notified earlier this week. No names were released. 

RCMP said the couple were last seen on March 11 when they had breakfast in Field. On Tuesday, hotel staff called police to file a missing persons report when the couple's room appeared untouched.

Statham said the avalanche risk was considerable on Mount Hector when the snowshoers were caught in the slide, but he they were well equipped.

"They had avalanche transceivers on, which is of course how we found them," he said.

"I believe they had enough experience to know that they were using the right equipment and I'm sure that they knew they were travelling in avalanche terrain."

Parks Canada said Highway 93 North was to remain closed until at least Sunday.