A Revelstoke man was rushed to hospital after being caught in an avalanche in Rogers Pass on Boxing Day.
Nick Thomas was skinning up NRC Gully with a friend when he triggered the avalanche and was sent crashing over a rock band on Monday, Dec. 26.
“There’s not a lot to say really. It was a bit of a mis-judgement on my part,” he told the Review from the hospital in Kelowna on Friday. “It wasn’t a huge avalanche but unfortunately it took me down a rock band. I got a bit beaten up by it.”
Thomas wasn’t fully buried in the slide but he broke his shoulder blade and dislocated his hip as a result.
He said he and his friend were near the top of the bowl at the top of NRC Gully when he triggered the avalanche. The slide, which Parks Canada categorized as a size two, swept him off his feet and carried him over a cliff band below.
“I knew I was above not very nice terrain so I was trying to dig myself into the bed and not go further, but unfortunately I was taken for quite a ride,” he said.
His friend was able to call for help and a rescue team from Parks Canada came to fly him off the mountain. He was then transported by BC Ambulance to Revelstoke and later to Kelowna.
The avalanche danger for Glacier National Park was rated moderate in the alpine and at treeline that day. The bulletin warned of the possibility of storm slabs failing on a weak layer down 50-60 centimetres that was buried on Dec. 18. It advised against travelling on unsupported slopes.
“Isolated storm slabs should keep you on your toes, be vigilant, exercising caution as you investigate each slope independently,” stated the bulletin.
Allison Fleischer, a spokesperson for Glacier National Park, said in an e-mail that the avalanche failed on the Dec. 18 weak layer. The crown of the avalanche was about 25 metres wide and the slide ran for about 205 metres.
Thomas, who has been backcountry skiing for 20 years, said his big takeaway from the incident is to be more aware of what’s below.
“Although the avalanche risk wasn’t that high on that day, we were getting up towards the ridge line, snow conditions were changing,” he said. “There was a wind effect and even a very small avalanche can have serious consequences when you’re in awkward terrain.”
Thomas thanked Parks Canada and BC Ambulance for rescuing him and getting him to a hospital. He said he’s not sure how long it will take to recover, but doesn’t expect to ski again this winter.