One dead following two avalanches in Fernie and Sparwood

Reports are coming through of two avalanches in the Elk Valley yesterday.

  • Mar. 10, 2012 8:00 p.m.

A snowmobiler died yesterday in an avalanche near Sparwood, and a skier had to be rescued after an avalanche near Fernie.

The snowmobiler was in a group touring in the Corbin area of Sparwood when the avalanche hit them around noon. He was recovered fairly quickly but pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor who was in the group.

At around 2:30 p.m. four skiers touring on Fernie Ridge triggered a size three avalanche, which carried one man down the avalanche chute and into some trees. He severely injured his leg.

The group called for help and Fernie Search and Rescue attended.

They were unable to get the man airlifted by helicopter because of the windy conditions, so a team of 11 rescuers were dropped on the ridge, just as it was getting dark.

Simon Piney from Search and Rescue was one of the rescuers. He said the injured man was at the base of a very steep slope and the team used a rope system to bring him back up the ridge.

“The man was hypothermic. We made a fire to warm him up, stabilized his injuries and set up camp for the night.” said Piney. “The conditions were bad yesterday but luckily they were better today and we were able to evacuate him at 6:15 a.m.”

The man was taken to hospital in Fernie then transferred to Cranbrook for surgery.

The snowslides hit the same day the Canadian Avalanche Centre issued a warning that the avalanche risk was high in the area’s backcountry. People have been advised to stay out of the backcountry until the warning is lifted.

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