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#238286 - 12/30/11 06:47 PM Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C.
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1382
This story is getting national headlines. A group of skiers went into the back country and 3 of them got caught in an avalanche and one person paid with his life. The incident happened yesterday afternoon and 2 of the surviving skiers went for help and although the details are still sketchy at this point, the 2 came across some other skiers who had a SAT phone and were able to call for help. The lateness of the day yesterday along with weather and high risk to SAR teams delayed rescue efforts until early today where upon they found that one skier who got swept down the avalanche succumbed overnight to trauma injuries.

I would not think even having a SPOT or PLB would of been of any help here as again, the time of day and weather would of still prevented a rescue.

The back country here is at extreme risk and in the past week, there has been numerous media reports and advisories to stay out of the back country.

"Unfortunately this is an example of the extreme, extreme risk in the backcountry area of British Columbia. The avalanche risk is high. The warnings have gone out. Unfortunately this gentleman paid with his life," said Thiessen (RCMP Sgt.)

I know the area very well and have hiked and camped nearby many times. Also several of my pictures I have posted here, have been taken in the general area. This is a rugged, steep and unforgiving place to be anytime of the year.

In this link, Mt. Caspar is in the middle. There is a highway just to the north of the mountain where I would surmise that SAR staged from.

News Link 1

News Link 2

News Link 3

News Link 4

_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#238290 - 12/30/11 07:48 PM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: Teslinhiker]
jzmtl Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/18/10
Posts: 530
Loc: Montreal Canada
He knew the avalanche risk is extreme and still went anyway, not much more to say about that.

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#238296 - 12/30/11 08:31 PM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: Teslinhiker]
policebodyarmor Offline
Stranger

Registered: 12/08/11
Posts: 5
Loc: VERMONT
this is what they get for challenging mother nature, i guess? such an irony!


--
http://www.bulletproofvestshop.com/civilian-bullet-proof-vests/

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#238299 - 12/30/11 08:34 PM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: Teslinhiker]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1116
Loc: Alaska
As always, one wonders what details the press missed. Hopefully a professional report will be posted on one of the avy websites, if I see one I will pass it on. While it is easy to be critical of their desciion to be out in such conditions, it is also worthwhile to remember that it appeaars that this was a highly experienced team. Even in times of extreme avy conditions, it is possible for an experienced team to travel safely (although clearly that didn't work in this case).

Things they did right:

1.Only one skier was caught. Standard travel protocal when crossing or descending a suspect slope is that only one person is exposed at at time. The others stay in a safe spot, observing the skier and ready to rescue if necessary.

2. It was a party of four. After the accident, one stayed with the injured skier, and two traveled for help.

3. They apparently had adequate gear and skills to survive the night.
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#238303 - 12/30/11 09:17 PM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: Teslinhiker]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2958
Loc: USA
According to one of the articles, the skier was injured at approximately 3:30pm and the RCMP was called around 4:30pm.

Again, according to reports, poor conditions prevented launching a helicopter. The victim perished before rescuers arrived overnight. It doesn't seem like the 45-60 minutes of delay before the rescue was launched would have made a difference in this case.

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#238311 - 12/30/11 10:15 PM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: AKSAR]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1382
Originally Posted By: AKSAR
As always, one wonders what details the press missed. Hopefully a professional report will be posted on one of the avy websites, if I see one I will pass it on. While it is easy to be critical of their desciion to be out in such conditions, it is also worthwhile to remember that it appeaars that this was a highly experienced team. Even in times of extreme avy conditions, it is possible for an experienced team to travel safely (although clearly that didn't work in this case).


Like you, I would like to see the official report. However keep in mind that this group was not traveling through the area, they were actually skiing in the avalanche area. I am one to criticize based on early reports. However as I posted earlier, I know the area very well and cannot comprehend why anyone with their experience would be skiing in that area? Especially after this past week where the local media has had multiple updates daily with the latest extreme avalanche conditions.

Originally Posted By: AKSAR

Things they did right:

1.Only one skier was caught. Standard travel protocal when crossing or descending a suspect slope is that only one person is exposed at at time. The others stay in a safe spot, observing the skier and ready to rescue if necessary.


The latest update today from the RCMP today, demonstrates that this was not the case.

It is still being determined what caused the avalanche, but according to RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen three of the four skiers went up a slope to ski down for the last run while Mackenzie remained near the bottom with equipment issues.

When the avalanche came down it swept Mackenzie 1,800-metres downhill into a treed area. The companions located him, still alive but critically injured at the time, and two left immediately to get help.


Again, any future official report will give more details then what is available now...
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#238317 - 12/30/11 10:43 PM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: Teslinhiker]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4934
Loc: SOCAL
It appears the skier with equipment issues left the area prior to the avalanche. McKenzie was one of the three that went up-slope to ski down.
Quote:
three of the four skiers, including Mackenzie went up a slope to ski down for the last run and that is when the avalanche was triggered. The fourth had left the area due to equipment problems.

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#238328 - 12/31/11 12:06 AM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: policebodyarmor]
ILBob Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 776
Loc: Northern IL
One of the problems with these kind of cases is that often the authorities put out warnings of dubious value that people have learned to ignore because in most cases there is not anywhere near the risk that the warning might have you believe.

Sort of like the "extreme cold" warnings now being issued. It is not more cold than people are generally used to and know how to handle already. It seems pointless to issue the warning in the first place since it will just teach people to ignore the warnings.
_________________________
Warning - I am not an expert on anything having to do with this forum, but that won't stop me from saying what I think. smile

Bob

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#238334 - 12/31/11 12:51 AM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: ILBob]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1116
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: ILBob
......It seems pointless to issue the warning in the first place since it will just teach people to ignore the warnings.
A more common problem is that people who are highly trained and experienced sometimes tend to cut their margins thinner and thinner. This may well be what happened in this case. Somewhat like those who buy a sports car that takes curves better.....then drive faster on winding roads.

Jill Fredston, a well known avalanche expert based here in Anchorage, once commented at an avalanche class I attended that one of the most frustrating things for her was that some people took the classes, and then skied more dangerous situations, thinking that they could fine tune their risk management. It can work....for awhile. Jill and her husband Doug Fesler have now retired from teaching avalanche classes, and no longer participate much with the local SAR community. One rumor I've heard is that they just got tired of recovering the bodies of friends and former students.
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#238339 - 12/31/11 01:17 AM Re: Skier dies after avalanche in Pemberton, B.C. [Re: Russ]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1382
Originally Posted By: Russ
It appears the skier with equipment issues left the area prior to the avalanche. McKenzie was one of the three that went up-slope to ski down.
Quote:
three of the four skiers, including Mackenzie went up a slope to ski down for the last run and that is when the avalanche was triggered. The fourth had left the area due to equipment problems.


Latest, local news on TV stated that the 3 skiers were on a slope and were assessing the avalanche risk. The avalanche started then swept the victim down the slope.

As always, these reports are changing almost hourly and more then likely to change again..
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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