Woman survives avalanche near Pemberton
A woman is lucky to be alive after surviving an avalanche in the back country north of Pemberton off Duffly Lake Highway Saturday afternoon said RCMP in a media release.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair said the call came in at approximately 3:40 p.m. to Pemberton RCMP of a large avalanche that occurred near the Wendy Thompson Hut in the back country north of Pemberton.
“Cell phone contact with the complainant was very limited due to poor cell coverage in the area however an officer was able to determine that there were at least three separate groups ski touring in the area and an avalanche had fully buried one person who was subsequently dug out by members of her group with the assistance of others in the area,” LeClair explained.
“It was unknown at the time if anyone else had been caught in the avalanche.”
LeClair said Pemberton Search and Rescue attended the scene via helicopter and were able to determine that there were no other injuries or buried persons.
“A subsequent check of the parking area by police in conjunction with interviews of people departing the area allowed the police to determine that everyone had been accounted for,” he said.
LeClair said police interviewed several witnesses on Monday evening and were able to determine that a group of 10 people were ski and snowboard touring and had skied a slope one at a time.
“The last skier was descending the slope when a large avalanche triggered about 100 meters above him,” LeClair said.
“He was alerted to the danger by members of his group blowing whistles to warn him and was able to ski out of the avalanche path.”
LeClair said the avalanche continued downslope and struck several members of the group partially burying three people and fully burying one person.
“Members of the group along with a party of three men and another party of five women were able to quickly effect the rescue of the buried person and she was recovered within 3 to 6 minute,” he said.
“Witnesses reported that she was buried 1.5 meters below the surface and was unconscious and unresponsive when they found her however recovered once removed from the snow. The groups were all properly equipped for back country travel and had varying levels of experience.”
LeClair said several members of the group had taken formal avalanche training and put those skills to use to effect the rescue.
“While this group was well equipped and prepared, the incident highlights the need to be vigilant in the back country as avalanche and weather conditions can change quickly and without warning.”